May UK government borrowing hits record £55.2bn

A woman shelters from the rain beneath a Union Jack umbrella during rainfall in central London.Image copyright
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Government borrowing hit a record monthly high of £55.2bn in May, as the coronavirus continued to press heavily on finances.

The Office for National Statistics had said April’s deficit was the highest since records began in 1993, but has now revised that from £62bn to £48.5bn.

April’s figure was changed after the government received more from taxes and National Insurance.

It also spent less than thought on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

May’s borrowing was nine times higher than in the same month last year and, the ONS said, last month was the first time since 1963 that debt as a percentage of GDP had passed 100%.

The deficit – the difference between spending and tax income – for the 12 months to May is now estimated to have been £103.7bn, £87bn more than in the same period last year, another record.

But but the ONS estimates borrowing for the financial year 2020-21 will dwarf that at £298bn. That would be the largest deficit since World War Two.

The ONS said that although the impact of the pandemic on the public finances was becoming clearer, its effects were not fully captured in the release, and that estimates were subject to greater than usual uncertainty.

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