EU Payment Reduced UK Borrowing in December

By Jason DouglasFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

U.K. government borrowing in the nine months through December was the lowest in a decade, aided by bumper receipts from sales taxes and a refund from the European Union.

The figures suggest Treasury chief Philip Hammond is on course to meet borrowing forecasts for the fiscal year ending March 31.

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The Office for National Statistics said Tuesday that the U.K. government borrowed GBP50 billion ($70 billion) in the nine months through December to cover the shortfall between taxes and spending, the lowest borrowing for the same period since 2007.

Borrowing in December was GBP2.6 billion, the lowest for the final month of the year since 2000. The government's coffers were swelled by record receipts for value-added tax, a sales tax, and a GBP1.2 billion credit from the EU. The payment followed a reduction to the bloc's budget for 2017 agreed by member states.

The Office for Budget Responsibility, the U.K.'s fiscal watchdog, said in November that it expects borrowing for the 12 months through March to be around GBP4 billion lower than the previous fiscal year, at GBP49.9 billion.

Though borrowing for the first nine months is higher than that total, the public finances usually move into surplus in the final three months of the fiscal year as many taxes fall due, reducing borrowing for the fiscal year overall.

Write to Jason Douglas at Jason.Douglas@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 23, 2018 04:52 ET (09:52 GMT)