Here’s yet another lump of coal for the Conservative Government’s Christmas stocking.
With borrowing up to £66.9 billion for the year – by November – it seems unlikely that the Office of Budget Irresponsibility’s prediction that only another £2 billion will be borrowed between now and March will come true.
In fact, the BBC’s story is so full of excuses for the Tory government that it seems the Corporation is no longer even trying to deny allegations that it is now nothing more than an apologist mouthpiece for the Conservatives.
Even if Osborne succeeds in cutting borrowing, but not by the amount he predicted, then he will fail to raise the amounts he claimed in his Autumn Statement – sums on which he is relying, in order to keep his other promises.
And the borrowing figure quoted today doesn’t include support for public sector banks and housing associations. Of course, one might wonder why these organisations need support at all – the Tories are always talking about selling off the public’s share in the banks (to their friends, on the cheap) and the housing associations were not – to This Writer’s knowledge – making a loss.
OBR chairman Robert Chote is quoted with a mealy-mouthed excuse about contributions to the EU and the World Bank – contributions whose timing would have been known well in advance and which should, therefore, have been accommodated.
And a Treasury spokesman is quoted with a frankly incredible claim that George Osborne’s plan is working. Do these people ever feel even a twinge of embarrassment when they peddle this nonsense?
The only message to draw from the figures is that Tory economics doesn’t work.
Government borrowing figures were worse than expected in November, casting doubts over whether the chancellor will meet forecasts for this financial year.
Borrowing for the month was £14.2bn, up by £1.3bn compared with November 2014.
The Office for National Statistics said the figure for November last year was boosted by a one-off gain of £1.1bn in fines for foreign exchange rigging.
Total borrowing for the financial year to date is now £66.9bn, down £6.6bn from the same point last year.
The independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates that borrowing for the whole of the financial year 2015-16 will be £68.9bn – excluding support for public sector banks, and also excluding new changes to the treatment of housing associations.
That is below last year’s £90.1bn, which would mean Chancellor George Osborne would have achieved his aim of cutting government borrowing.
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