Government Borrowed £19 Billion in February, Pushing National Debt Up to £2.13 Trillion

The Government borrowed £19.1 billion in February, the highest since comparable records began in 1993. Serious measures are needed to flatten the UK’s growing mountain of debt, but the Government hopes to stop short of introducing another period of “austerity”. The Mail has the story.

Rishi Sunak renewed his vow to balance the books today as the Government broke another borrowing record.

The £19.1 billion figure for last month was the highest February figure since comparable records began in 1993. 

It means that net debt has risen by £333 billion since coronavirus chaos kicked in last April, with the UK’s debt mountain reaching £2.131 trillion – equivalent to 97.5% of GDP.

Responding to the ONS figures, the Chancellor said: “Coronavirus has caused one of the largest economic shocks this country has ever faced, which is why we responded with our £352 billion package of support to protect lives and livelihoods.

“This was the fiscally responsible thing to do and the best way to support the public finances in the medium-term.

“But I have always said that we should look to return the public finances to a more sustainable path once the economy has recovered and at the Budget I set out how we will begin to do just that, providing families and businesses with certainty.” …

Rather than go ahead with another period of “austerity” – which Boris Johnson has already ruled out – it is more likely that tax rises and borrowing would increase instead to make up the shortfall, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said.

The UK’s tax burden is already set to hit the highest level since the 1960s as Mr Sunak raises billions by dragging more people into higher income tax rates and increasing rates for businesses.

The relationship between the stringency of lockdowns and the level of economic suffering is well established, as is highlighted here.

Worth reading in full.

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