Government borrowing reached an ‘eye-popping’ £21.5bn last month – the second highest ever – with Jeremy Hunt saying he is supporting families with the cost of living despite skyrocketing taxes
Government borrowing reached £21.5bn last month as the cost of supporting energy bills and interest on debt outweighed skyrocketing taxes.
The figure was the second highest for March and £16.3bn more than the same period last year, with Jeremy Hunt admitting it was ‘eye-watering’ and can’t go on ‘forever’.
The ONS said the loan was £139.2bn for 2022-23 as a whole, £18.1bn more than the previous year.
However, it was a bright spot for the chancellor lower than the £152.4bn forecast last month by the Office for Budget Responsibility watchdog last month – a reflection of the economy holding up better than expected.
After tax thresholds remained frozen, around £81bn was raised – £1.6bn more than March last year. But spending rose by £15.1bn to £104.7bn.
National debt now exceeds £2.5 trillion, or 99.6 per cent of GDP – the highest ratio since the early 1960s.
The figure was the second highest for March and £16.3bn more than the same period last year, with Jeremy Hunt admitting it was ‘eye-watering’
The Treasury has spent £41.2 billion over the past six months to support households and businesses with energy costs.
Meanwhile, skyrocketing inflation also pushed interest payments on government debt to £106.6 billion – 47 per cent higher than the previous year.
Mr Hunt said the government was right to spend on energy aid in the cost of living crisis, but warned ‘we can’t borrow forever’.
He said: “These numbers reflect the inevitable consequences of borrowing eye-watering amounts to help families and businesses through a pandemic and (Vladimir) Putin’s energy crisis.”
He added: “We have joined forces to support the UK economy in the face of two global shocks, but we cannot borrow forever.
“We now have a clear plan to reduce debt, thereby easing the financial strain on our children and grandchildren.”