Massive borrowing to fund the fight against coronavirus means the UK’s debt is now bigger than the country’s entire economic output for the first time since 1963, official statistics have revealed.
Ministers borrowed a record-setting £55.2 billion in May according to the Office of National Statistics, sending public sector borrowing nine times higher than this time last year.
It means the UK’s debt mountain has also now grown to more than the entire country’s annual output.
The UK’s total stands at 100.9 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, the first time that has happened in 57 years.
Borrowing in the current financial year-to-date, which is April and May, is estimated to have been £103.7 billion – up £87 billion on the same period a year ago and the highest two-month period on record.
The ONS estimate borrowing for the 2020-21 financial year will reach £298bn.
That would be the largest deficit since World War Two.
“The best way to restore our public finances to a more sustainable footing is to safely reopen our economy so people can return to work.
“We’ve set out our plan to do this in a gradual and safe fashion, including reopening high streets across the country this week, as we kickstart our economic recovery.”
Income from tax, National Insurance and VAT all dived in May amid the coronavirus lockdown as spending on support measures soared.
This is the first time debt has been larger than the size of the economy since 1963, but it is not as high as the post-war peak of 258 per cent in 1946-47.
The Office for National Statistics had previously said that April’s borrowing figure was the highest since records began in 1993, but it subsequently revised the figure down to £48.5bn from £62bn.
The UK’s debt stands at £1.95 trillion according to the ONS, which is 100.9 per cent of GDP.
ONS estimates put GDP at £1.93 trillion.