- Public sector net borrowing (excluding public sector banks, PSNB ex) is estimated to have been £31.7 billion in April 2021; this is the second highest April borrowing since monthly records began in 1993, £15.6 billion less than in April 2020.
- Provisional April 2021 estimates of central government receipts were £58.0 billion, up £3.8 billion (or 7.0%) compared with April 2020, while central government bodies spent £95.9 billion, down £12.9 billion (or 11.9%) from April 2020.
- Public sector net borrowing (PSNB ex) in the financial year ending (FYE) March 2021 is estimated to have been £300.3 billion, revised down by £2.8 billion from last month’s first provisional estimate but remains the highest borrowing since financial year records began in FYE March 1946.
- Expressed as a ratio of gross domestic product (GDP), public sector net borrowing (PSNB ex) in FYE March 2021 was 14.3%, revised down by 0.2 percentage points from last month’s first provisional estimate; it remains the highest such ratio since the end of World War Two, when it was 15.2% in FYE March 1946.
- Public sector net borrowing (PSNB ex) in FYE March 2021 is estimated to have been £27.1 billion less than the £327.4 billion expected by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in their Economic and Fiscal outlook – March 2021 on a like for like basis.
- Public sector net debt (excluding public sector banks, PSND ex) was £2,171.1 billion at the end of April 2021 or around 98.5% of GDP, the highest ratio since the 99.5% recorded in March 1962.
- Central government net cash requirement (excluding UK Asset Resolution Ltd and Network Rail) was £30.5 billion in April 2021; the total for FYE March 2021 was £334.5 billion, substantially more than in any other financial year period since records began in FYE March 1984.
The impact of the coronavirus on the public finances
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a substantial impact on the economy and subsequently on public sector borrowing and debt.
Although the impact of the pandemic on the public finances is becoming clearer, its effects are not fully captured in this release meaning that estimates of accrued tax receipts and borrowing are subject to greater uncertainty than usual.
Central government tax and National Insurance receipts (combined) in the financial year ending (FYE) March 2021 were £670.0 billion, a fall of £32.7 billion (or 4.7%) compared with the same period a year earlier. Government support for individuals and businesses during the pandemic contributed to an increase of £204.1 billion (or 27.6%) in central government day-to-day (or current) spending to £942.7 billion.
As a result of these low receipts and high expenditure, provisional estimates indicate that in FYE March 2021, the public sector borrowed £300.3 billion, equivalent to 14.3% of the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP).