UK budget surplus totals 16.7 billion pounds in Jan - ONS


Adds background and detail in paragraphs 3-6

LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Britain recorded a smaller-than-expected seasonal budget surplus of 16.7 billion pounds ($21.08 billion)in January, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday.

A Reuters poll of economists had a median forecast for a surplus of 18.7 billion pounds for public sector net borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, for January, reflecting seasonal inflows of income tax payments.

Since the start of the financial year in April 2023, public borrowing has totalled 96.6 billion pounds, the ONS said, 3.1 billion pounds less than during the same period of the 2022/23 financial year.

Finance minister Jeremy Hunt will present his annual budget on March 6, and wants scope to cut taxes in order to boost the Conservative Party's popularity before the national election Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expects to call later this year.

The Conservatives are heavily trailing the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls, and received a blow from official figures last week which showed the economy had fallen into a shallow recession in the second half of last year.

($1 = 0.7924 pounds)

(Reporting by Suban Abdulla; editing by William James)


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