Government borrowing hit £31.7bn in April, official data shows, which was lower than the same month last year as parts of the economy reopened.

 

The Office for National Statistics said borrowing was £15.6bn lower than April last year, when the UK entered its first full month of Covid lockdown.

The figure was the second highest for April since records began.

However, borrowing was lower than official forecasts.

The Office for Budget Responsibility, the fiscal watchdog, had predicted borrowing would reach £39bn last month.

Parts of the economy began to reopen in April, including pubs and restaurants as well as hairdressers and gyms.

Tax receipts were lower last month at £58bn compared to £66.3bn in March. However, the figure was ahead of the same time last year when tax receipts hit £54.2bn.

The government’s borrowing figures were also boosted by smaller than expected interest payments on debt.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics said public borrowing “should continue to undershoot” the OBR’s forecast it published alongside the Budget in March amid expectations of a strong recovery in GDP.

However, he said: “The chancellor’s room for manoeuvre on austerity measures will depend on the size of the long-term hit to potential GDP from the recent recession.

“While ‘scarring’ should be smaller than after past recessions, given that the unemployment rate has remained low, we still see significant costs in the form of diminished investment and an unprecedented exodus of non-UK nationals.”

 

BBC

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