UK borrowing hits £22 billion, debt to £2.48 trillion in November: Data

AFP , Wednesday 21 Dec 2022

UK state borrowing surged last month on fallout from sky-high inflation, notably government financial help for consumers and businesses struggling to afford soaring energy bills, official data showed Wednesday.

UK parliament
This file photo taken on December 13, 2022 shows Britain s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L), addressing the MPs on illegal immigration as Britain s Home Secretary Suella Braverman (R) reacts at the House of Commons, in London. AFP


Public sector net borrowing hit £22 billion ($27 billion) in November, up £13.9 billion from a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

The government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has maintained subsidies for household energy bills introduced by his predecessor Liz Truss after prices rocketed in the wake of Ukraine's invasion by key producer Russia.

Despite easing in November, UK inflation remains close to 11 percent. Interest rates have also risen, pushing up interest repayments for the government.

"We have a clear plan to help halve inflation next year, but that requires some tough decisions to put our public finances back on a sustainable footing," finance minister Jeremy Hunt said following the latest data.

UK ambulance workers readied to walk out on Wednesday, a day after nurses staged their second stoppage, in a widening dispute with the government which is refusing to cede to above-inflation wage hikes.

The series of walkouts has intensified in the run-up to Christmas, with industrial action by railway workers and passport control officers threatening to ruin festive holiday getaways.

The statistics office added that total UK debt rose in November to almost £2.48 trillion, or 98.7 percent of gross domestic product.

"November's public finances data saw a significant year-on-year overshoot in UK public sector net borrowing, reflecting the impact of support schemes to help households and businesses pay their energy bills," noted EY analyst Martin Beck.

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