The UK borrowed a higher than expected £16.7bn in February, a record for that specific month due to the government spending billions on helping families with the cost of energy bills, official figures out today reveal.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) numbers indicate Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s decision to cap typical household energy bills at £2,500 pushed government borrowing nearly up £10bn compared with the same month last year.

The overall borrowing number is larger than the nearly £12bn analysts expected and marks a reversal from January’s surprise budget surplus.

It is also the highest number since records began in 1993.

“Borrowing is still high because we’re determined to support households and businesses with rising prices,” Hunt said today.

Governments borrow money when the amount they spend tops the amount of revenue they raise from taxes. Public finances are said to be in deficit in such situations.

At last week’s budget, the Chancellor spent £20bn a year over the next half a decade, amounting to a big chunk of the improvement in the public finances since his autumn statement in November.

He expanded access to free childcare, launched investment reliefs for businesses and scrapped the cap on lifetime tax free pension contributions.

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