Wednesday 16 October 2019

Government borrowing lower than expected in April

Public sector net borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, fell by £30 million to £5.8 billion.

Philip Hammond (Victoria Jones/PA)
Philip Hammond (Victoria Jones/PA)

By Henry Saker-Clark, Press Association City Reporter

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been given a boost after official figures showed a decline in Government borrowing.

Public sector net borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, fell by £30 million to £5.8 billion for April, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

It represents the lowest April figure since 2007. Economists had expected net borrowing to be marginally higher at £5.9 billion.

Government expenditure jumped by £1.8 billion to £66.5 billion, while receipts also rose, up £1.4 billion to £61.2 billion for April.

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(PA Graphics)

Public sector net debt excluding public sector banks increased by £20.5 billion to £1,797.7 billion, which is 82.7% of GDP.

The Government has been boosted by the £4.9 billion asset sale of Bradford and Bingley mortgages to Citi, reducing net debt and the Government’s net cash requirement, the ONS added.

The latest data comes after the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said it expects borrowing for the current financial year to £29.3 billion.

The fiscal watchdog put the rise down to the potential for uncertainty surrounding a no-deal Brexit.

The ONS announced last month that net borrowing fell by £17.2 billion to £24.7 billion for the financial year to the end of March.

However, it has now revised this figure to £23.5 billion, a £1.1 billion reduction on its first estimate.

In a blow to the Chancellor, the structural budget deficit could bulge by around £12 billion in 2020-21 amid changes to the way student loans are accounted.

The OBR has also forecast that the UK economy will grow at the slowest pace since 2009.

It cut its UK GDP growth forecast to 1.2% for 2019, down from its previous 1.6% estimate.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club, said: “On the basis of April alone, it is headed for £23.4 billion in borrowing – but it is far too early to draw any conclusions as monthly public finance data can be prone to significant revisions as well as being influenced by specific factors.

“Much will depend on Brexit developments and how the economy reacts.”

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