UK government borrowing hits February record due to pandemic

Rishi Sunak and the UK government are borrowing record-breaking amounts to pay for measures introduced to limit the impact of the pandemic.

The Government borrows money by selling bonds, explains the BBC.

Public finances have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic since it gripped the UK from early 2020.

The Government has been handing out huge sums of money to businesses and employees to prevent millions of people winding up unemployed.

The government borrowed £19.1bn last month, the highest figure for February since records began in 1993, reflecting the cost of pandemic support measures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said borrowing was £17.6bn higher compared with February last year.

The latest ONS figures showed the government spent £3.9bn last month on job support measures alone.

They also showed a fall in tax income, notably from lower VAT, business rates and fuel duty, although they also showed money coming in from self-employed tax payments rose by £0.9bn from last year.

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The budget deficit in the first 11 months of the financial year has soared to almost 279 billion pounds, the highest relative to the size of the economy since World War Two.

The deficit for January was revised down by 5.6 billion pounds, largely reflecting lower government procurement spending, the Office for National Statistics said.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak on March 3 announced a budget plan which included 65 billion pounds in further stimulus to help the economy through what he hopes will be a gradual lifting of COVID restrictions by the end of June.

Borrowing for the year so far reached £278.8bn, a record for that period.

Total public sector debt has risen to £2.13 trillion, according to the ONS.

The ONS said: “Although the impact of the pandemic on the public finances is becoming clearer, its effects are not fully captured in this release, meaning that estimates of accrued tax receipts and borrowing are subject to greater than usual uncertainty.”

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