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Public borrowing lower than forecasts

BRITAIN'S public sector borrowing rose to its highest for a February on record but by less than economists had forecast, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that net borrowing was £12.361bn – below forecasts of £14.75bn.

Meanwhile tax receipts rose by 3.6 per cent – the largest jump since April 2008.

The ONS said the February rise to £42.6bn came as economic conditions improved and VAT was raised.

Receipts from VAT rose 30 per cent to £6.9bn last month after the tax was hiked to 17.5 per cent from 15 per cent.

Total borrowing so far this year is now just below £131bn with £170bn the target for the full year.

A treasury spokesman said: "With one month of the financial year remaining, the figures are broadly in line with our Pre-Budget Report forecasts."

The government, which will deliver its annual Budget on 24 March, has pledged to halve its budget deficit over the next four years.