UK Annual Public Borrowing Lowest Since 2008

By Wiktor Szary and Jason Douglas Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.K. public borrowing fell to its lowest in nearly a decade in the fiscal year ending March, data showed Tuesday, as robust economic growth pushed corporate tax receipts to a record-high.

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Net government borrowing stood at 52 billion pounds ($66.62 billion), a decrease of GBP20 billion from the previous fiscal year, and the lowest since the fiscal year ending March 2008, when it stood at GBP40.4 billion.

This means the government came close to hitting a borrowing target for the year, set out by the Office for Budget Responsibility, a fiscal watchdog. The OBR forecast the government's full-year borrowing would stand at GBP51.7 billion.

The data will be welcomed by the ruling Conservatives, who earlier this month called a surprise general election, looking to strengthen their majority as they begin to negotiate Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, which began in March.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said that the ruling party's election manifesto would continue to put emphasis on reducing Britain's budget deficit, but hinted he may seek more flexibility in meeting current deficit-reduction goals, saying existing commitments from the party's 2015 election manifesto are too restrictive.

Those call for budget gap, currently around 3% of annual national income, to be eliminated during a five-year parliamentary term, while limiting the treasury's ability to raise some taxes and cut spending on areas such as health care.

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Write to Wiktor Szary at Wiktor.Szary@wsj.com and Jason Douglas at Jason.Douglas@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 25, 2017 04:49 ET (08:49 GMT)