Britain’s borrowing jumped to a higher-than-expected £14.2 billion in November, putting pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to meet his targets to bolster the nation’s finances.
The Office for National Statistics said public sector net borrowing excluding state-backed banks leapt £1.3bn year-on-year in November, taking the overall figure so far this financial year to £66.9bn.
The figure is higher than the £11.1bn expected by economists. While year-to-date borrowing is £6.6bn less than a year earlier, experts warned Mr Osborne will struggle to meet his £73.5bn target for the full year.
“Barring a dramatic improvement in the trend, it is looking likely to be missed by possibly more than £5bn,” said James Knightley, economist at ING.
The Autumn Statement showed that independent forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) confirmed the UK would move into surplus by 2020, while also confounding experts by revealing public sector net borrowing was set to narrowly beat this year’s target.
The OBR also handed the Chancellor an early Christmas present when it unveiled a £27bn boost to the public finances over the course of the parliament.
But experts said the improvement this year is unlikely to match OBR predictions.
“The public finances are likely to be better this year than in the previous financial year, but the improvement may not be as large as the OBR suggested in the Autumn Statement,” said David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
“The underlying message remains that our budget deficit is still too high, and greater efforts are needed, through reducing current public spending and generating sufficient tax receipts.”