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UK public finances weaken in first half of tax year

By Ramla Soni

5.4 per cent rise in day-to-day Government spending on public services

British public borrowing rose more than a fifth in the first half of the tax year, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

Public sector net borrowing (excluding public-sector banks) in September was £9.4 billion, up from £8.8bn in September 2018. This is the first September year-on-year borrowing increase for five years.

But looking at the six months since the start of the tax year in April, borrowing was £7.3bn more than the same period in 2018 at £40.3bn, the ONS said.

According to Reuters, the figures confirm signs that Britain’s Government is on course to miss its goal of keeping borrowing below 2 per cent of gross domestic product in 2020/21, due to increasing public spending and statistical revisions.

If Boris Johnson gets his way with Brexit, analysts at the UK In A Changing Europe think-tank suggest that weaker trade ties with the EU will damage Britain’s economy and reduce tax revenues by up to £49bn a year compared with staying in.

Meanwhile, debt at the end of September 2019 excluding the Bank of England (mainly quantitative easing) was £1,611.1bn or 72.2 per cent of GDP. This is an increase of £38.6bn, or a decrease of 0.5 percentage points compared to September 2018.

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