Public borrowing for the U.K. government narrowed at the end of the first quarter to bring the figure for the past financial year to a level below the official forecast, according to Bloomberg. On Thursday, the Office for National Statistics reported that net borrowing for March was £18.6 billion, narrowing from £19.8 one year earlier and slipping under the £20 billion shortfall forecast by economists. The total shortfall for the fiscal year that ended in March was £141.1 billion, which was £4.8 billion less than the official target set by the government.
The government initially expected to borrow £163 billion in 2010-2011, and that figure was revised to £145.9 billion when the March 2011 budget was unveiled, according to Financial Times. The below-target total was due to a £3 billion surplus in public corporation borrowing rather than a £1 billion deficit as the Office for Budget Responsibility had expected. Vicky Redwood of Capital Economics said despite the better-than-expected data, the latest figure is “still a huge number and the government will find it much harder to meet this year’s borrowing target if the economic recovery disappoints.”