UK government borrowing rises to record due to pandemic

LONDON — The U.K. government’s borrowing rose to the highest level on record in the first half of the financial year as tax revenue fell and authorities spent billions of pounds to prop up an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Office for National Statistics said today that the government borrowed a net 36.1 billion pounds ($47.1 billion) in September, pushing the total for the first six months of the year to 208.5 billion pounds. That’s the highest figure since records began in 1993.

Tax revenue dropped 11.6% from a year earlier in the six months through September. At the same time, support for individuals and businesses to get through the pandemic contributed to a 34% increase in day-to-day spending.

Public sector net debt now stands at 103.5% of the U.K.’s annual economic output, the highest level since 1960, the ONS said.