LONDON: Britain recorded a budget deficit of 18.5 billion pounds ($23.82 billion) in June, down by 400 million pounds from the same month last year, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.
A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to public sector net borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, of 22 billion pounds last month.
The ONS said higher tax receipts and a big fall in government debt interest compared with June 2022 were largely offset by increased benefit payments and other costs.
The June deficit took borrowing in the first three months of the 2023/24 financial year to 54.4 billion pounds, 12.2 billion pounds more than in the same period last year but 7.5 billion less than expected by Britain’s budget forecasters.
Government borrowing soared during the COVID-19 pandemic period and public debt climbed above 100% of gross domestic product, hitting levels not seen since World War Two and standing at 100.8% of GDP in June.
Finance minister Jeremy Hunt and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have so far resisted calls for tax cuts from lawmakers within their Conservative Party ahead of a national election expected in 2024.