By Simon Miller
UK government borrowing nearly doubled in February according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics.
Borrowing grew from £8.875bn to £15.183bn, nearly double the 8% predicted by economists. As a result the net debt stands at £995bn, around 63.1% of GDP.
Presenting the 2012 Budget to the House of Commons, the chancellor George Osborne said the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that debt would now peak at 76.3% rather than the previously forecast of 78% with net deficit reaching 7.6% with the share taken by the state falling to 43%.
As a result, borrowing will fall to £120bn next year and £21bn by 2016/2017.
"This Budget reaffirms our unwavering commitment to deal with Britain’s record debts," said Osborne. "But because we’ve already taken difficult decisions, this can also be a reforming Budget that seeks to repair the disastrous model of economic growth that created those debts."
Growth forecast has been revised slightly up for 2012 to 0.8%, then growing 2% next year then 2.7% for 2014 and 3% for 2015 and 2016.
Osborne also pointed out that thanks to the reduction in the deficit and low interest rates allowed the government to save £36bn in debt interest payments compared to the previous administration.
He added: "This year is the 400th anniversary of the creation of the Treasury Board and the modern Treasury. There have been times the Treasury has been borrowing money more cheaply than at any previous time in that 400 year history. Few countries in Europe could say that."
Osborne also confirmed that the Debt Management Office would be consulting on whether there was a case for longer-maturing gilts than the current 50 year maximum and whether there was a case for a perpetual gilt with no fixed redemption date.
Although corporation tax is being reduced to 24% this year, banks are to face an increase in the bank levy to offset this and future reductions.
Osborne commented: "I am also increasing the rate of the bank levy to 0.105% from next January, so that the additional corporation tax cuts do not benefit the banks; and so our levy will raise the £2.5 billion a year that we said it would."