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Government borrowing

Government borrowed £91 billion during April to August 2021 according to the ONS’s provisional estimate. This is £90 billion less than during April to August 2020. While borrowing is falling, it remains at relatively high levels. Borrowing in the financial year so far is the second highest since monthly records began in 1993.

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

Public sector net borrowing, % GDP

Government debt

At the end of August 2021, public sector net debt was equivalent to 97.6% of GDP. Prior to the pandemic, in February 2020, the debt-to-GDP ratio was 83.4%.

Public sector net debt, % GDP

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

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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