UK finances were weighed down in February by the impact of government support linked to household energy bills, which sent public borrowing soaring, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday. .
Public sector borrowing in February reached 16.7 billion pounds (19 billion euros), better than economists' expectations and the highest level for this month since monthly statistics began in 1993.
After a month of January which had turned out to be better than expected for the state coffers, borrowing soared in February "
largely due to substantial spending on energy support programs
", specifies the ONS in its monthly report.
The British government is helping households deal with soaring energy bills in the wake of the war in Ukraine, which has fueled inflation above 10% for months in the country.
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2,507.3 billion pounds of debt
British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt presented a budget on Wednesday in which he notably extended for three months a cap on energy bills for British households which should have been raised on April 1.
We are determined to support households and businesses in the face of rising prices and are spending around £1,500 per household
” to help with energy bills this winter, Jeremy Hunt said in a statement on Tuesday.
However, cumulative public borrowing since the beginning of the current fiscal year (which ends at the end of March in the United Kingdom) remains within the nails of the forecasts.
Analysts are counting on an improvement in public finances in the coming months thanks to the decline in energy prices on international markets.
But the big risk is that the turmoil in the banking sector will worsen the economic slowdown and that the recent improvement in public finances will be swept away
,” warns Ruth Gregory, an analyst at Capital Economics.
At the end of February, public sector debt reached 2,507.3 billion pounds, around 99.2% of gross domestic product (GDP), a level not seen since the early 1960s.