LONDON, March 8 Britain's government will need
to borrow 23.5 billion pounds less between the current financial
year and 2021 than it expected a few months ago, helped by the
economy's resilience to last year's Brexit vote, according to
official budget forecasts.
Finance minister Philip Hammond said on Wednesday that the
budget deficit for the current financial year was expected to
fall to 51.7 billion pounds ($62.9 billion), lower than a
shortfall of 68.2 billion pounds foreseen in a budget update in
The combined deficit for the five financial years between
2016/17 and 2020/21 stood at 192.8 billion pounds compared with
216.3 billion in November's forecasts.
Hammond said the decrease compared with November's forecast
mostly reflected one-off factors rather than a major structural
improvement in the public finances.
Hammond has said he will not use any good news on the
outlook for the public finances to increase spending or cut
taxes significantly now. Instead, he wants to give himself room
to help the economy in the future, should it be hit by
uncertainty over the country's exit from the European Union.
Britain's public finances are still expected to be in the
red by the 2021/22 financial year, the end of the forecast
period of the Office for Budget Responsibility.
This represents a significantly less rapid pace of deficit
reduction than Hammond's predecessor George Osborne planned
before the June 2016 referendum on European Union membership.
($1 = 0.8223 pounds)
(Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Michael Holden)