Britain's annual deficit misses target: official data

21st April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Britain's annual deficit overshot the Conservative government's target, official data showed on Thursday, dealing a blow to finance minister George Osborne.

Separately, a heavy fall in retail sales data added to concerns of slowing growth in the country's economy ahead of June's referendum on Britain's future in the European Union.

"March's fall in retail sales added to other evidence indicating that the economic recovery has slowed since the start of the year," said Vicky Redwood.

"While there was better news on public borrowing, the OBR's full-year forecast has been missed."

She added: "Admittedly, the slowdown in the economy could prompt deficit reduction to stall again in the near term."

Net borrowing stood at £74 billion ($106 billion, 94 billion euros) in the 2015/2016 financial year to the end of March, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

That missed the government's official forecast of £72.2 billion, despite ongoing austerity from Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative administration.

The outcome nevertheless marked a major improvement from net borrowing of £91.7 billion in 2014/2015.

Borrowing meanwhile improved to stand at £4.8 billion in March, sharply down from £7.4 billion in the same month of 2015.

Separate ONS data showed on Thursday that British retail sales sank last month, as shoppers shunned the high street owing to an early Easter holiday and bad weather.

Sales by volume slid 1.3 percent in March from February, which marked the second straight successive decline.

© 2016 AFP

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