© Mark Case/Getty Images

Figures out this morning show the extent of UK government borrowing during the first half of the fiscal year, which runs from April. There are a whole string of record-breaking figures.

The central government net cash requirement — the cash shortfall between spending commitments and revenues — was almost three times higher than any other April to September period since records began in 1984, at £246.4bn. For September, the figure was £25.2bn, £10.4bn more than the same month last year and the highest September cash requirement since 2008. Public debt meanwhile rose by £259bn to £2.06tn at the end of September — the highest debt to GDP ratio on record at around 104 per cent of GDP.

A huge programme of public spending and falling tax revenues because of the pandemic has pushed up borrowing. But government borrowing in the first half was nonetheless lower than the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast back in July, with declines in GDP and tax receipts less severe than feared. More from correspondent Valentina Romei here.

Also this morning, the Treasury has confirmed it will conduct a one-year Spending Review, rather than the three-year master plan the government had intended to map out priorities for the rest of this parliament.


UK inflation data are also published this morning. They show that the inflation rate increased to an annual rate of 0.5 per cent in September after the Eat Out to Help Out subsidised dining scheme came to an end. The scheme helped push inflation down to 0.2 per cent in August; transport costs and restaurant and café prices had the biggest impact in pushing inflation up between August and September.

Sports fans don’t much like events played behind closed doors; neither does bookie William Hill, it seems. Despite “encouraging” third-quarter performance, William Hill said that with fixtures held behind closed doors, results had been more unpredictable than usual, affecting its margins. Revenues fell 9 per cent in the three months to the end of September compared to the same period last year, as bricks and mortar outlets continued to suffer.

Also out today are updates from Metro Bank, miners Centamin, Hochschild and Antofagasta, and warehouse landlord Segro.

Beyond the Square Mile 

Subscriber growth slows at Netflix © Reuters

The boost Netflix has received from lockdown life has come to an end. The video streaming group added only 2.2m subscribers from July to the end of September — well below the 16m and 10m subscribers it added in the first and second quarters, respectively. Netflix shares slipped more than 6 per cent in after-hours trade on the tepid results, which missed analyst forecasts for 3.6m new subscribers and Netflix’s own guidance for 2.5m. 

The US Department of Justice has accused Google of suppressing competition in internet search in a lawsuit that marks the beginning of a landmark antitrust case. The justice department called Google “a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet” and alleged that the company, owned by Alphabet, had used a “web of exclusionary” deals to stymie competitors in the search business.

One of the Asian subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs has agreed to plead guilty to US charges in the 1MDB money laundering and bribery scandal as part of a global regulatory settlement that includes more than $2bn in new penalties. The settlement between Goldman and authorities will probably be announced on Thursday, three people familiar with the situation said. One of them said it would include a guilty plea in the US by one of Goldman’s Asian units.

Essential comment before you go

© James Ferguson

Martin Wolf
Just like patients have suffered from “long Covid” so too has the economy. The pandemic is likely to give the world not just a deep recession, but years of debility. In response, governments must spend and not worry about what it will cost to do this.

Efforts by the City of London to reinvent itself are more like the latest Madonna rebrand than a truly transformational plan. Laudable, but hardly landmark proposals. 

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