Quarterly: Q1 £6.0 billion current surplus
Public Sector quarterly results
In the first quarter of 2004, the public sector had a current budget surplus of £6.0 billion - an increase of £0.4 billion compared with the same period last year, when there was a surplus of £5.6 billion. The public sector is usually in surplus in the first quarter because that is the peak quarter for tax receipts.
The public sector recorded deficits between 1991/2 and 1997/8 before moving into surplus in 1998/9. The public sector returned to deficit in 2002/03, with £14.1 billion. The provisional deficit for 2003/04, at £23.4 billion, is the highest since 1995/96.
Capital expenditure, as measured by net investment, was £5.7 billion in the first quarter, compared to £6.2 billion in the corresponding quarter of 2003. The 2003/04 investment figure, at £13.9 billion is the largest ever recorded.
An alternative measure of the public sector fiscal performance is public sector net borrowing. This additionally takes account of capital investment. There was net borrowing of £0.2 billion in the first quarter, compared to £0.6 billion in the corresponding quarter of 2003. Net borrowing for 2003/04 was £37.2 billion, compared with £25.0 billion in 2002/03.
The return to borrowing has added to the stock of public sector debt. This was £374.9 billion at the end of March 2004, compared with £334.1 billion a year earlier. Public sector net debt, expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), was 32.7 per cent at the end of March 2004, compared to the 30.8 per cent recorded at end of March 2003. Debt peaked at 44.0 per cent of GDP in June1997, the highest since the 1980s. The debt ratio then fell steadily as public sector finances improved, reaching a low of 29.6 per cent in February 2002; since then it has risen.
Public Sector Accounts statistics are consistent with the UK national accounts published today. The format is a summary of the public sector finances presentation in the Budget 2004 (HM Treasury, 17 March 2004). The statistics are used to monitor progress against the Government's key fiscal rules.
The June 30 release is the last ever Public Sector Accounts release, as such this is the last time this summary will be published. This release will be developed to include similar tables to those used in Public Sector Accounts. Please click on the 'News: Public Sector Finances' link on the right-hand side for the latest information.