Business

UK budget deficit revised lower by ONS

HM Treasury
Image caption The Treasury borrowed less last year than first thought

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revised down the amount borrowed by the government last year from £163.4bn to £156bn.

Borrowing was £5.5bn lower than previously thought in March, the statistics agency added.

Borrowing for April was £10bn - also lower than expected by many economists.

The figures will provide some good news for the new government, which views bringing down the budget deficit as a priority.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, is due to outline government plans to make £6bn of savings over the next year, and further deficit reduction plans will be announced in the emergency Budget planned for June.

But although the revision means there is £7.5bn less debt to repay, the UK public finances remain in a dire state.

Although lower than forecast, the UK's budget deficit last year remains the biggest since World War II.

Total government debt - the cumulative amount borrowed over several decades - also remains high at £893.4bn, equivalent to 62.1% of GDP.

The borrowing figures were revised following new data suggesting the government's tax income in March was higher than previously thought.

Income tax and capital gains tax earned the government £2.6bn more than previously thought, the ONS said, while taxes on production were up £800m and VAT was up £600m.

A Treasury spokesman said that while the revision was welcome, it did not change the urgent need for deficit reduction.

"The chancellor has made clear that tackling the deficit must start now, which is why £6bn of savings this year will be set out on Monday," the spokesman said.

"Borrowing in April and for last year was still at record levels, which is why we need to act now to cut the deficit."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites