Government borrowing falls to £6.8bn


UK government borrowing fell to £6.8bn in April, down from £9.3bn a year earlier, official figures show.

It is the lowest April government borrowing figure since April 2008, when public borrowing stood at £2.5bn.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also revised its previous estimate of borrowing for the full financial year up slightly to £87.7bn, from £87.3bn.

But that was still comfortably below the government’s target of £90.3bn.

As it is the start of the financial year, little can be gleaned from the public borrowing figures as yet.

And as the ONS itself warned on Friday, borrowing figures in the first few months of the financial year are often subject to revisions.

In his March Budget, Chancellor George Osborne forecast public sector net borrowing would amount to £75.3bn this financial year.

Deficit reduction

Last month, official figures showed the economy grew by 0.3% in the three months to the end of March, compared with 0.6% in the last three months of the year.

Mr Osborne plans to hold a new Budget on 8 July, when he is expected to outline his strategy to eliminate the deficit by the end of 2017 and achieve a Budget surplus in 2018-19.

It is expected he will outline £30bn of spending cuts to government departments, including £12bn of cuts to welfare spending.

It is also possible the chancellor may revise the government’s borrowing targets.

A Treasury spokesman said the borrowing figures showed the government’s deficit reduction plan was working, with borrowing in April £2.5bn lower than the same month a year ago.

“We have more than halved the deficit, but at just under 5%, it is still one of the highest in the developed world,” the Treasury official said.

“There is no shortcut to fixing the public finances, so we have to continue with the hard work of identifying savings and making reforms necessary to finish the job and build a resilient economy.”

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