George Osborne looks set to miss his own 2015/16 Budget targets, ONS figures show

To bring the budget deficit down to Osborne's target of £72.2 billion this financial year, borrowing in March would have to fall to its lowest March level since 2004

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The Independent Online

George Osborne is a whisker away from missing his target to cut the budget deficit in the current financial year, 2015/16.

Public sector borrowing, excluding borrowing by publically owned banks, fell £14 billion in the 11 months to February compared to the same period a year earlier, the ONS said.

But the budget deficit – or the total amount the Government had to borrow this financial year – stands at £70.7 billion with one month to go until the end of the financial year.

To bring the budget deficit down to his target of £72.2 billion for this financial year, borrowing in March would have to fall to its lowest March level since 2004.

Osborne has borrowed less, but still may miss his 2015/16 target

Source: ONS

The latest borrowing figures from the Office for National Statistics comes as the Chancellor grapples with criticism of his Budget. Public outrage over disability allowance cuts planned to save £4.4 billion by 2020 have already prompted the policy to be scrapped.

Osborne is expected to face MPs in on Tuesday. He has yet to comment on the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith from his post as Work and Pensions Secretary over the cuts to disability benefit.

He is expected to say: "I'm sorry Iain Duncan Smith chose to leave the Government last week, and want to recognise his achievements in helping to make sure work pays, breaking the old cycles of welfare dependency and ensuring the most vulnerable in our society are protected.”

Osborne’s decision to wrap up the Budget debate is highly unusual. It comes after the shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused him of insulting Parliament by sending Financial Secretary David Gauke to answer questions.

Food and drink has got cheaper, but restaurants more expensive


The ONS reported that inflation rose 0.3 per cent in the year to February 2016, unchanged from January 2016.

Transport costs, the prince of food and drink and some cultural goods and services are all getting cheaper over time, while restaurant and hotel bills and university tuition fees are all pushing rates up the other way.