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Government borrowing

Government borrowed £298 billion in 2020/21, according to the ONS’s fourth provisional estimate. The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant effect on the public finances.

These provisional figures contain some forecast data and are likely to be revised in the coming months.

Government debt

At the end of June 2021, net debt exceeded £2.2 trillion and was equivalent to 99.7% of GDP. Prior to the pandemic, in February 2020, the debt-to-GDP ratio was 83.4%.

The Library briefing Coronavirus: Effect on the economy and public finances looks at the effect of coronavirus on the public finances.

The Library Insight Government borrowing: Peacetime record confirmed looks at what has happened to the public finances during 2020/21. 

The Library briefing Spring Budget 2021: A summary sets out the Budget’s key announcements and briefly analyses public spending and the OBR’s forecasts.

Definitions and notes

The ONS’s figures for 2020/21 provisional: they’re not final figures and may be revised as provisional data are replaced with final audited data.

Net borrowing – often described as the deficit – is the difference between what the government spends and what it receives in taxes over a particular time period.

Net debt is the total amount that the public sector owes – it is largely the stock of past borrowing.

All figures exclude public sector banks.

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