LONDON (Reuters) -British public borrowing totalled 31.696 billion pounds ($44.93 billion) in April, the first month of the new financial year, down from 47.315 billion pounds a year earlier when the public finances first felt the full impact of the COVID pandemic, official figures showed on Tuesday.
Economists polled by Reuters had on average expected 30.9 billion pounds.
The fall in borrowing in April compared with a year earlier is the first annual decline in borrowing since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but last month’s borrowing is still huge by normal standards.
In the financial year to the end of March, Britain borrowed 300.3 billion pounds, equivalent to 14.3% of gross domestic product and the highest peacetime deficit on record, the Office for National Statistics said.
This represents an downward revision from last month’s estimate of 2020/21 borrowing equivalent to 14.5% of GDP.
British government budget forecasters predicted in March that borrowing would fall to 10.3% of GDP this financial year.
Public sector net debt in April stood at 2.171 trillion pounds or 98.5% of GDP, the ONS said.
($1 = 0.7055 pounds)
(Reporting by David Milliken and Andy Bruce; Editing by Kate Holton)