UK Borrowing Tops £119bn YTD; Debt Nears £2.7 Trillion

UK central government borrowing in the financial year-to-December 2023 was £119.1 billion, £11.1 billion more than in the same nine-month period the previous year and the fourth-highest financial year-to-December borrowing on record, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The UK’s borrowing is forecast to reach £123.9 billion by the end of the financial year.

The ONS said the UK’s public sector net debt excluding public sector banks was £2.685 trillion at the end of December 2023 and was provisionally estimated at around 97.7% of the UK’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). This is 1.9 percentage points higher than in December 2022 and remains at levels last seen in the early 1960s.

However, UK public sector net borrowing excluding public sector banks in December 2023 was £7.8 billion, around half or £8.4 billion less than that borrowed in December 2022.

UK central government debt interest payable was £4 billion in December 2023, £14.1 billion less than in December 2022. The ONS said changes in interest payable “are largely the effect of Retail Prices Index (RPI) movements on index-linked gilts.”

The ONS said: “In the nine months to December 2023, central government’s income was £703.8 billion, an increase of £35.3 billion compared with the same period a year ago.

“Of this, tax receipts grew by £34.6 billion, to £528.3 billion and compulsory social contributions (largely national insurance contributions) fell by £1.9 billion to £129.8 billion.

“However, this increase in income was exceeded by a £65.0 billion increase in total expenditure, which rose to £840.6 billion over the same period.”