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UK public borrowing soars in October ahead of election

By Amanda Cooper

The ONS said public borrowing rose £2.3 billion year-on-year to £11.2 billion in October

British public borrowing shot up by 25 per cent in October, compared with last year, as the government increased spending ahead of the country’s planned departure from the EU early next year and next month’s general election.

Office for National Statistics data showed public sector net borrowing excluding public sector banks, in October 2019 was £11.2bn (€13.08), £2.3 bn more than in October last year.

This was well above analysts’ forecasts of about £8.6bn and the highest October borrowing for five years, according to the ONS.

With an election on December 12, Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised increased spending on schools, hospitals and public services.

In the current tax year alone, borrowing rose by 10 per cent year-on-year to £46.3 billion, the ONS said.

Public sector net debt excluding public sector banks reached 80.4 per cent of GDPat the end of October, marking a rise of £32.1bn, or a drop of 1.1 percentage points on October last year, the ONS said.

Uncertainty around Brexit, scheduled for late January next year, has also prompted increased borrowing to ward off potential harm to the economy.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies, a think tank, warned last month that Johnson’s spending plans threatened to raise public debt to levels last seen 50 years ago.

FURTHER READING: Surprise split as Bank of England leaves UK rates unchanged

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