Britain reports first budget surplus in 15 years

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-22 20:42:48|Editor: ying
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LONDON, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The first budget surplus in 15 years was recorded by the British government in July, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported here Tuesday.

There was a July surplus of 0.2 billion pounds (257 million U.S. dollars) in public borrowing, compared to a deficit last year of 0.3 billion pounds (385 million dollars), said ONS. Extra tax paid in by self-employed people is said to be the explanation for the surplus.

But the national debt, which works out at more than 83,400 U.S. dollars for every household in Britain, is still too high, the Treasury said in a statement in response to the latest public finance figures.

Although ONS said public sector net borrowing (excluding public sector banks) was in surplus in July 2017, borrowing so far in the current financial year is up.

Public borrowing increased by 2.45 billion dollars to 29.3 billion dollars in the current financial year-to-date (April 2017 to July 2017), compared with the same period in 2016.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast that public sector net borrowing (excluding public sector banks) will be 75 billion dollars during the financial year ending March 2018.

ONS added that public sector net borrowing decreased by 35 billion dollars to 58 billion dollars in the financial year ending March 2017 compared with the financial year ending March 2016. It was, said ONS, the lowest net borrowing since the financial year ending March 2008.

Public sector net debt was 2,255.2 billion dollars at the end of July 2017, equivalent to 87.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), an increase of 185 billion dollars (or 4.5 percentage points as a ratio of GDP) on July 2016.

A Treasury spokesperson in London said, "We are making good progress in strengthening our public finances and living within our means."

"Our national debt, at 65,000 pounds (83,400 dollars) for every UK household, is still too high," said the spokesperson. "That is why we have a clear fiscal plan to reduce our debts and build a stronger economy for every household."

"As such, despite July's strength, the chancellor may still find that he has little scope for any easing back on the planned fiscal squeeze in his November Budget."

The Treasury spokesperson said the July borrowing figure was a 0.5 billion pound (O.64 billion dollar) improvement on last July, with the deficit down by three quarters since 2010, when one pound was borrowed for every five pounds spent.