The UK government had to borrow more than expected to make ends meet last month, as spending stood at £20.5bn in August.
The figure came in lower than the £21.6bn ($29.6bn) forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility, but well above the £14.3bn predicted by analysts polled by Reuters.
Despite the fall in the monthly figure, government borrowing remains high in the wake of meeting pandemic costs. Last month’s figure was the second-highest August borrowing since monthly records began in 1993, but £5.5bn less than in August 2020. However, this August's borrowing was £15.3bn higher than in August 2019.
Public sector net borrowing was estimated to have been £93.8bn in the financial year to August 2021.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We are determined to get our public finances back on track – that’s why we have set out the focused and responsible steps we are taking to keep debt under control.”