The U.K. government borrowed £17.4 billion ($23 billion) in November, outstripping economists’ expectations as officials brace for more debt to cushion the expected risks of the Omicron variant on the economy.
Last month’s borrowing was the highest for November, hitting levels last seen in the early 1960s, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics.
The figure was also the second highest for November since records began in 1993, despite being down £4.9 billion last year.
Economists had expected the government to borrow only about £16 billion.
Costs of borrowing had also surged from the Bank of England’s most recent interest rate hike, adding £4.6 billion a year to service the debt. Interest payments made by the Treasury had jumped 54 percent from April to November — the fastest pace since the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
Although British officials had announced intentions to lower borrowing from 7.9 percent of GDP this year to 3.3 percent next year, analysts noted that risks of the Omicron variant slowing down the economy next year might mean that the government’s budget deficit will continue to surge.
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