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Public Finances: Key Economic Indicators

Published Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Latest data on government net borrowing and net debt.

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Net borrowing

Government borrowing in the current financial year to date (April 2017 to February 2018) was £2.5 billion lower compared with the same period in 2016/17. These provisional figures are equivalent to a decrease of nearly 6%.

The OBR expects borrowing to be 2% lower in 2017/18 than in 2016/17. This is a smaller fall than might be suggested by the provisional data discussed above. The OBR believes that local authorities will spend more than is assumed in the provisional figures.

Public sector net borrowing, % GDP

Net debt

At the end of February 2018 public sector net debt was equivalent to 85.1% of GDP, up 0.9% points on February 2017.

Public sector net debt, % GDP

2016/17 figures and figures for the current financial year are provisional

The ONS’s figures for 2016/17 and 2017/18 are provisional: they are not final figures and may be revised over the coming months as provisional data are replaced with finalised and audited data.


Net borrowing – often described as the deficit – is the difference between what the government spends and what it receives in taxes over a particular time period.

Net debt is the total amount that the public sector owes – it is largely the stock of past borrowing.

All figures exclude public sector banks.




Commons Briefing papers SN02812

Author: Matthew Keep

Topics: Economic situation, Public expenditure

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