The UK’s borrowing rocketed to a record £127.9 billion (€142 billion) in the first quarter of the financial year due to soaring spending at the height of the coronavirus crisis, according to official figures.
Its Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that borrowing in the first three months of the financial year was more than double the £55.4 billion seen in the whole of 2019-20 as the UK spent heavily on emergency support measures during the lockdown.
It came after June’s public sector net borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, rose five-fold year on year to £35.5 billion – £28.3 billion higher than a year earlier and the third highest for any month on record.
But borrowing last month was lower than expected by most economists and less than the downward revised £45.5 billion recorded for May.
The figure fell as the cost of the government’s furlough scheme for workers eased back to just over £9 billion when some firms began to recall staff, while the vast majority of the payment to self-employed workers was also made in May.
The ONS said the UK central government spent £80.5 billion in June, up by a quarter year on year.
Public sector net debt, excluding state-owned banks, surged to £1.98 trillion, which is equivalent to 99.6% of gross domestic product (GDP), marking the highest debt to GDP ratio since 1961, according to the ONS.