Government borrowing eases in May

Government borrowing decreased this May as restrictions were lifted and tax receipts increased, the latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

Public sector net borrowing - the difference between spending and tax revenue - stood at £24.3 billion in May 2021.

This was £19.4bn less than in May 2020, but still the second-highest May figure since monthly records began.

Provisional estimates from the ONS show central government receipts came in at £56.9bn, higher than the Office for Budget Responsibility's forecast of £55.2bn.

Fuel duty saw the largest percentage increase compared to May 2020, more than doubling from £1bn to £2.3bn.

PAYE receipts stood at £14.1bn, while VAT came to £12.2bn.

While some economists speculated that the more optimistic outlook could reduce the need for future tax hikes, the Treasury has remained cautious.

In a statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

"As we emerge from the pandemic, we are continuing to support people and businesses to get back on their feet and our plan for jobs is working.

"It's also important over the medium term to get the public finances on a sustainable footing. That's why at the Budget in March I set out the difficult but necessary steps we are taking to keep debt under control in the years to come."

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