British public borrowing was lower than expected in December, thanks to stronger tax receipts, but total outstanding debt rose above the £1 trillion mark for the first time on record, official data showed.
The Office for National Statistics said that public sector net borrowing excluding public sector interventions - the government's preferred measure - fell to £13.708bn last month from £15.912bn in December 2010.
This was below economists' average forecast in a Reuters poll of £14.9bn and took borrowing in the fiscal year to date to £103.289bn, down from £114.604bn in 2010/11.
The ONS said government tax receipts had been boosted by the bank levy imposed on financial institutions to recoup some of the costs of the financial crisis, while spending fell modestly.
However, public sector net debt excluding financial interventions rose to £1.004 trillion in December, the highest since records began in 1993.
The ONS said it expected net debt to dip in January due to tax receipt inflows, but to rise again in February.