Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's plans for tax cuts in Wednesday's autumn statement were boosted as data showed government borrowing was lower than official forecasts in the year to date, despite a sharp rise in October.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said net public sector borrowing rose to £14.9bn last month, £4.4bn more than last year and the second highest October borrowing since monthly records began in 1993 .
It was more than most economists had thought and was higher than the £13.7 billion expected by the UK's budget watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), marking the first time it has exceeded official forecasts this year .
The ONS also revised up borrowing figures for the first six months of the financial year to £83.4bn from £81.7bn previously estimated, mainly due to weaker income and corporation tax collections.
But despite the higher-than-forecast figure, financial borrowing year-to-date is still below official forecasts made last March, coming in at £98.3bn, £21.9bn more than a year ago earlier, although less than the forecast of £115.2bn. the OBR.
It comes as the government has set the stage for tax cuts in Wednesday's autumn statement after intense pressure from the Conservative Party.
Mr Hunt said: “We have kept our commitment to halve inflation, but we must continue to support the Bank of England to reduce inflation to 2%.
“That means being in charge of the nation's finances.
“In my Autumn Statement tomorrow, I will focus on how we will boost business investment and put people back to work to deliver the growth our country needs.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used a speech on Monday to promise tax cuts and pledged to “reward hard work” in what appeared to be a clear signal of intent ahead of the autumn statement.
The government will no doubt be relieved that borrowing figures for the year to date are still falling short of official forecasts, but the next set of OBR forecasts published alongside the autumn statement on Wednesday are expected to show upward revisions for the coming years, according to some economists .
Pantheon Macroeconomics expert Samuel Tombs said the latest ONS figures show the job of getting the country's public finances back on a sustainable footing “is far from done”.
The ONS said borrowing rose in October on the back of upgraded benefits and cost-of-living payments, as well as £1.1bn in interest payable on the public debt – a record high for October, though lower than recent peaks.
These factors offset the end of energy support payments, which began last October.