Government borrowing falls in February

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Authority borrowing fell last month to its lowest amount for February in 10 years, conforming to official figures.

Borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, was £1.8bn, down from £4.6bn a year earlier, the Mediation for National Statistics said.

In the financial year-to-date, borrowing has fallen by £19.9bn from latest year to £47.8bn.

Analysts said the figures meant the government was on trail to meet revised borrowing targets.

In the Budget, the Office for Budget Blame revised its end-of-year borrowing forecast to £51.7bn, down from its earlier prophesy of £68.2bn.

‘Fiscal ammunition’

The ONS said corporation tax receipts had risen by 21.3% in the beginning 11 months of the financial year to just over £50bn, while gains from tax and National Insurance contributions rose by 6.5% to £280bn.

Howard Trickier, chief UK and European economist at IHS Markit, said Chancellor Philip Hammond was «distinctly keen to keep fiscal ammunition up his sleeve — due to the major uncertainties and downside hazards that the economy faces as it navigates its way out of the EU».

«Despite the resilience of the economy so far since definitive June’s Brexit vote, the chancellor is very well aware that a disputing road lies ahead,» he said.

«Furthermore, an appreciable budget shortage is still seen existing in 2021-22 so there is still work to be done then on depart the public finances back to full health.»

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