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Government: Borrowing

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 7 April 2010

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why there was a downwards revision of £4.3 billion in public sector net borrowing for January as published in the Office for National Statistics' February revision of central government current expenditure; which departments reduced their expenditure or increased their income (or both); and by how much each department reduced its expenditure or increased its income (or both). [HL3162]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for ONS, to Lord Laird, dated March 2010.

As Director General of the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking why there was a downwards revision of £4.3 billion in public sector net borrowing for January as published in the Office for National Statistics' February revision of central government current expenditure; which departments reduced their expenditure or increased their income (or both); and by how much each department reduced its expenditure or increased its income (or both). [HL3162]

Revisions to previous months' data for the public sector finances are not unusual, particularly for the most recent periods, reflecting their provisional status. The monthly data are also volatile and it can be misleading to read too much into them.

The single biggest contributor to the revision of the January 2010 data, accounting for £3.2 billion of the total, was central government current expenditure. There were a number of factors contributing to this, including the availability of better estimates from government departments. Earlier months in the current financial year were also revised, leaving the year to date total broadly unchanged.

There was also an upward revision of £1.4 billion to government tax revenues with firmer data replacing figures that were partially estimated.

A breakdown of revisions by government department is not available. A significant part of the revision is due to technical changes, which are not subdivided by department, to some of the components that make up central government current expenditure.