By Tony Winterburn • 19 March 2021 • 9:52
Masks will be required on public transport in London.
UK Borrowing In February Reaches Record High Of £19bn.
The UK’s debt reached a new high in February this year as government borrowing hit £19.1bn while it continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout caused by the lockdown.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the public sector had borrowed more last month than during any other February since records began in 1993. The debt owed by public bodies has increased by £333bn since the start of April, the first month of full lockdown in the UK – the latest figures reveal the total debt is now £2.131 trillion, according to the ONS.
Central government bodies are believed to have spent around £72.6bn running their day-to-day activities in February, a rise of £14.2bn compared with February 2020- the figure includes the £3.9bn spent on supporting jobs through Covid-19.
UK government borrowing hit £34.1bn in December 2020, the highest figure for that month on record, as the cost of pandemic support weighed on the economy. It was also the third-highest borrowing figure in any month since records began in 1993, the Office for National Statistics said.
The ONS said: “Although the impact of the pandemic on the public finances is becoming clearer, its effects are not fully captured in this release, meaning that estimates of accrued tax receipts and borrowing are subject to greater than usual uncertainty.”
Separately, the government said it would receive £1.1bn from selling part of its stake in NatWest Group- the sale, which will complete on 23 March, will cut the size of the government’s stake in the bank from almost 62% to 59.8%.
The figures underline Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s problems as he prepares his March Budget in a separate survey, it was suggested that activity at UK firms fell sharply this month.
The closely-watched Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) from IHS Markit/CIPS found a “steep slump in business activity” during in January as lockdown measures continued, and warned that “a double-dip recession is on the cards”.
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