Blow for chancellor George Osborne as government borrowing overshoots in February

Chris Papadopoullos
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The Chancellor Gives A Speech Ahead Of The Spending Review
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The government borrowed £7.1bn in February, down £0.5bn compared with the same month last year.

It takes total borrowing for financial year to date (April 2015 to February 2016) to £70.7bn, according to the figures released by the Office for National Statistics this morning.

The Office for Budget Responsibility, the government's fiscal watchdog, last week lowered its borrowing forecast for the year to £72.2bn from £73.5bn. However, this is now likely to be missed.

The February data was important because 31 January fell on a Sunday this year. This means some self-assessment tax receipts and capital gains tax would have been paid in February, making it possible that it would be a bumper month.

"Today’s disappointing public finance figures are yet another blow for the Chancellor. The £7.1bn of government borrowing in February was only a bit below the previous February’s total, and was higher than the consensus forecast of £5.9bn," said economist Vicky Redwood from Capital Economics.

"Cumulative borrowing in the first 11 months of the fiscal year therefore totalled £70.7bn, meaning that borrowing in March will have to come in at just £1.5bn for the OBR’s full-year forecast of £72.2bn to be met. Given borrowing last March was £7.3bn, that seems very unlikely."