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Public debt soars on Tory watch

BRITAIN’S public debt at the end of last month was £40.5 billion higher than at the same time last year, according to Office of National Statistics (ONS) data released yesterday.

The debt at the end of January, excluding public-sector banks, stood at £1,782.1bn, equating to 82.6 per cent of GDP.  

Debt, excluding the Bank of England alone, was £1,596.7bn, an increase of £26.9bn on January 2018.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “The fundamentals of the economy are not in good shape, with a manufacturing recession and tumbling business investment.

“The Tories told us they would eliminate the deficit in 2015 — and we are still waiting for that to happen.

“A Labour government would be transparent in its management of public finances and undo the damage that has been done to the economy under this government.”

Net borrowing, excluding public-sector banks, was in surplus last month by £14.9bn, £5.6bn more than in January 2018.

This is also the largest January budget surplus since records began in 1993. 

Economists had expected a surplus of £10bn, but the ONS said that the higher than expected amount was driven by an increase in self-assessment income tax and capital gains tax receipts that are usually paid in January.

Self-assessed income tax and capital gains tax receipts combined were £21.4bn last month, £3.1bn more than in January last year.

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