UK government borrowing drops to £107.7bn but it isn't as good as it looks

The deficit may be down, but total net public sector debt is more than three-quarters of GDP and still rising.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 23 Apr 2014

Government debt figures are out and initially they look pretty good for George Osborne: £107.7bn borrowed in the financial year to April, down from £115.1bn last year and below the Office for Budget Responsibility’s £107.8bn forecast.

Borrowing in March was £6.7bn, well below economists’ expectations of more than £10bn. It’ll be music to the chancellor’s ears, having ambitiously said he wants to continue to axe spending to eliminate the budget deficit altogether by 2017-18.

However, the government has deployed its headline numbers selectively. Figures released today by EU agency Eurostat showed the UK deficit was 5.8% of GDP last year, compared to 3% for the whole of the EU, 4.3% in France and almost zero in Germany.

The UK’s total public sector net debt is also still rising and is now a staggering 75.8% of GDP. In the 2010/11 financial year, when the coalition came to power, it was a more manageable (although still pretty massive) 65.9%. The government can’t hide from statistics, however carefully selected.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime