government debt

UK gov’t borrowing soars further on virus spending

Agence France-Presse
UK gov’t borrowing soars further on virus spending

LONDON. A pedestrian walks along a quiet shopping street in central London on December 22, 2020.

Photo by Tolga Akmen/AFP

State borrowing by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has reached £241 billion since the first UK lockdown in late March

United Kingdom government borrowing continued to soar in November on emergency action to support the virus-hit economy which nevertheless rebounded stronger than expected in the 3rd quarter, official data showed on Tuesday, December 22.

Government borrowing last month hit £31.6 billion ($41.8 billion, 34.2 billion euros), a record for November – taking public sector net debt to £2.1 trillion, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

Separate data showed the UK economy bounced back by an all-time high 16% in the July-September period, up from an initial reading of 15.5%, as the country exited the first lockdown.

British economic output however remains 8.6% below the level of one year ago.

At the same time, “November’s surge in borrowing is unlikely to be reversed much over the next few months as the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions keep many businesses closed,” noted Capital Economics analyst Thomas Pugh. 

“This will only increase talk of how to pay for the crisis, but the successful rollout of vaccines next year and a rapid rebound in GDP (gross domestic product) could mean that the deficit returns to its pre-crisis level within the next few years without the need for much fiscal tightening.”

State borrowing by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has reached £241 billion since the first UK lockdown in late March – an increase of £189 billion year-on-year.

It means the UK’s overall debt is 99.5% of gross domestic product – the highest level for 58 years.

A chunk of the money raised has been to keep millions of private-sector worker in jobs via the government’s furlough scheme, with the bulk of wages expected to be paid until the end of April next year.

The government has also seen tax receipts slump by £38 billion in the 8 months to November year-on-year.

Much of the United Kingdom is once more in full lockdown heading into Christmas in response to a new strain of the coronavirus which has also prompted an international suspension of travel links with the country. –

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