Government borrowing soared in November as the UK continued to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Office for National Statistics said borrowing hit £31.6bn last month, the highest November figure on record.
It was also the third-highest figure in any month since records began in 1993.
UK borrowing hits highest November level on record https://t.co/hAomYYhTFf— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) December 22, 2020
The latest figures highlight the scale of the problems facing Chancellor Rishi Sunak as he prepares to unveil his next Budget early next year.
A Budget had been expected to take place in autumn this year, but it was delayed because of the pandemic and will now take place on 3 March 2021.
The Treasury will be seeking to bolster public finances after the huge rise in spending to fight coronavirus.
However, Mr Sunak made clear that he would not be taking any hasty action.
“When our economy recovers, it’s right that we take the necessary steps to put the public finances on a more sustainable footing so we are able to respond to future crises in the way we have done this year,” he said.
The chancellor has already imposed a pay freeze on at least 1.3 million public sector workers.
Since the beginning of the financial year in April, borrowing to cover the gap between spending and revenues has reached £240.9bn, £188.6bn more than a year ago.
The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has estimated that the amount could reach £372.2bn by the end of the financial year in March.
The increase in borrowing has led to a steep increase in the national debt, which now stands at just under £2.1 trillion.
The UK’s overall debt has now reached 99.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) – a level not seen since the early 1960s.