Public finance figures have just been released by the Office for National Statistics, showing the progress made on the Treasury’s deficit reduction programme.
It’s good news, with borrowing hitting pretty much the level expected during this year’s budget, and coming in below last year’s forecast.
But how does it look when compared to the chancellor George Osborne's original plan?
Borrowing in 2013/14 was below the 2013 budget forecast by about £12bn, reflecting the rapid and unexpected improvement in the country’s growth outlook - but it was still nearly £50bn higher than Osborne planned for four years ago.
This colossal shortfall pushes the changes push many of the decisions on how to reduce spending or increase taxes into the next parliament - and possibly even further, depending on the economic performance. In reality, the chancellor has made less than half of the fiscal headway that he would have liked.
Barclays note that discretionary tightening slowed considerably in 2013/14, and is expected to stay far lower than previously expected in 2014/15, as the country heads to an election - the burden then falls on the following fiscal year, when discretionary spending cuts are expected to rise significantly.
The gap is being closed particularly through increased tax take, rather than reduced spending: the year to March 2013 and last month, total government receipts rose by 4.3 per cent, rising to £574.2bn. Nominal spending actually rose, up 1.4 per cent to £640.2bn.
The resurgent housing market has been particularly helpful to Osborne, driving up stamp duty revenues 44.5 per cent in the last year. During some months, the intake from VAT is now rising to above £10bn. For about two and a half years previously, monthly VAT revenue pushed over £9bn but struggled to increase any further.