Slow economic growth pushed government borrowing off track, with lower tax revenues and a higher benefit bill than expected.
Labour’s Ed Balls argued the failure to reduce the deficit shows the chancellor has failed.
“Everybody knows we’ve got to get the deficit down. But George Osborne is failing because this year the borrowing is going up, not down,” Balls told the Andrew Marr Show yesterday. Instead, he suggested taxing bank bonuses to fund a home building programme.
But the chancellor called for more taxes on the rich and a new welfare squeeze, insisting that earners at both ends of the income spectrum should cut the deficit.