The Great Debate UK

Better public finance data may be sterling Trojan horse


Jane Foley
- Jane Foley is research director at The opinions expressed are her own.-

Finally UK monthly public finance data has brought better than expected news.  Not only was the net borrowing figure for February  better than expected but the January data was revised lower from 4.3 billion pounds to just 43 million pounds, taking the total for the fiscal year to date 131.9 billion pounds.

The better numbers mean that Chancellor Alistair Darling is on course for meeting, or perhaps even undershooting, his forecast of 178 billion pounds for the full fiscal year to April.

In essence this appears to be good news, but it requires qualification.  Firstly, these may be better than expected data but they are a far cry from good data.  At this stage last year the borrowing requirement was around half the size at 66.5 billion pounds; meaning that public finances are very much still in a shockingly poor position.