Worsening public finances give next PM a sharp 'reality check'

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Highest June deficit for four years shows economic slowdown is feeding through

Pledges by Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to cut taxes and increase spending have come just as the UK’s public finances have shown a marked deterioration, according to the latest official figures.

In what analysts called a “reality check” for the two Conservative prime ministerial contenders, the Office for National Statistics said the government needed to borrow £7.2bn last month – more than double the £3.3bn in the same month a year ago.

The government's finances are measured each month by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Tax receipts make up the vast majority of government income, while spending on welfare and services make up most of its outgoings.

Related: Fishy figures: Boris Johnson's public service pledges are fantasy economics | Richard Vize

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