Public Finance Press Releases

Public finance bulletin: August 2011

Date: 19 August 2011
Authors:

Today the Office for National Statistics and HM Treasury published Public Sector Finances July 2011. We now have details of central government receipts, central government spending, public sector net investment, borrowing and debt for the first four months of financial year 2011-12.

Rowena Crawford, a Research Economist at the IFS, said: "Weak growth in receipts in July, particularly from corporation tax, should increase concern that borrowing this year will overshoot the OBR's forecast. The headline numbers are probably gloomier than the true picture, due to changes in the expected timing of tax receipts this year relative to last year, but the government will still need receipts from many of the major taxes to grow more rapidly over the remainder of the year if they are to meet the OBR's forecast for receipts. The risk to borrowing at the moment appears to be mainly from the receipts side - central government spending so far this year has grown broadly in line with what was forecast in the Budget for the year as a whole."

Headline Comparisons

  • Central government current receipts in July were 5.6% higher than in the same month last year. Receipts over the four months April to July 2011 were 4.3 % higher than in the same months of 2010. The OBR forecast at the time of the March 2011 Budget implied that central government current receipts would grow by 7.2% over the whole of 2011−12. The growth in receipts so far this year looks artificially weak because of the different timing of two bank taxes - the temporary Bank Payroll Tax generated receipts in April 2010 while receipts from the new Bank Levy have only started to come in in July 2011. Although taking these into account improves the picture somewhat, underlying growth in receipts so far this year is still below what the OBR's forecast suggests for the year as a whole.
  • Central government current spending in July was 1.9% higher than in the same month last year. Spending between April and July was 3.3% higher than in the same months of 2010. The OBR's forecast at the time of the March 2011 Budget implied that central government current spending for the whole of 2011-12 would be 3.6% above 2010-11 levels.
  • Public sector net investment in July was £2.1bn, £0.8bn lower than in July 2010. Together, public sector net investment between April and July 2011 has been £7.0bn, which is 19% lower than in the same four months of 2010. The OBR's forecast at the time of the March 2011 Budget predicted that net investment in 2011-12 would be £31.8bn, which is 20% below last year's level.