Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves Downing Street, in London, Britain, Nov. 25, 2020.

SIMON DAWSON/Reuters

Britain will borrow almost £400-billion this year to pay for the massive coronavirus hit to its economy, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday, as the budget deficit jumps to its highest since World War Two.

The world’s sixth-biggest economy is now set to shrink by 11.3% in 2020, its biggest contraction since the early 1700s, before growing by 5.5% in 2021, Sunak said as he announced a one-year spending plan.

“Our health emergency is not yet over. And our economic emergency has only just begun,” he told parliament. “So our immediate priority is to protect people’s lives and livelihoods.”

Story continues below advertisement

Announcing the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), Sunak said public borrowing would be £394-billion ($526 billion) in the 2020/21 financial year that began in April.

That was equivalent to 19% of gross domestic product, the highest ever during peacetime and almost double its level after the global financial crisis which took nearly a decade of unpopular spending cuts to work down.

In the 2019/20 year, which ended as the country began to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, borrowing was just over 56 billion pounds, or 2.5% of GDP.

Britain’s economy has been hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic than those of many other rich nations. Nearly 56,000 Britons have died from COVID-19, the highest death toll in Europe.

The OBR said the economy was only likely to regain its pre-crisis size at the end of 2022.

Sunak has rushed out emergency spending and tax cuts to offset the crisis, including a recent extension of the government’s centrepiece jobs protection scheme.

Sunak said the cost of the fight against coronavirus was now 280 billion pounds this year, up from a previous estimate of about 200 billion pounds.

Story continues below advertisement

He has previously said that now is not the time to start reining in borrowing sharply, with the economy likely to shrink again in the fourth quarter of 2020 after the latest coronavirus restrictions on businesses.

Over this year and next, day-to-day spending will rise in real terms, by 3.8%, the fastest growth rate in 15 years, Sunak said, adding that 100 billion pounds would be spent next year on longer-term investment, 27 billion pounds more than last year.

But he signalled early moves to offset at least some of his spending by announcing a freeze on pay for most public sector workers, except doctors, nurses and other health staff.

He also announced a reduction in Britain’s foreign aid budget.

“I want to reassure the House that we will continue to protect the world’s poorest, spending the equivalent of 0.5% of our national income on overseas aid in 2021,” Sunak said.

“And our intention is to return to 0.7% when the fiscal situation allows.”

Story continues below advertisement

Britain is also facing the risk of a trade shock in less than six weeks’ time when its post-Brexit transition deal is due to expire. No new trade agreement has yet been reached with the European Union.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies