The UK’s national debt soared to record levels as ministers pushed up borrowing to cope with Covid-19.
Debt hit a record £2.024 trillion at the end of August – £249.5 billion more than the same time last year, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.
It pushed borrowing up to 101.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) after the public sector borrowed around £35.9 billion in August.
Analysts had predicted that borrowing would hit £38 billion in August, according to an average taken by Pantheon Macroeconomics.
National debt passed £2 trillion for the first time in history in July as the Government throws billions at offsetting the economic chaos caused by the Covid-19 crisis.
Mr Sunak warned unemployment will continue to rise despite new emergency measures to support jobs – which have been condemned as less generous
The Chancellor told a Downing Street press conference: “I would be lying if I could try and give you precise numbers or time frames for what’s going to happen when. We’re dealing with unprecedented economic uncertainty.
“Unemployment is already rising and will continue to rise – that’s a complete tragedy. We’ve already lost 700,000 jobs. Those people’s security is now under threat.”
And he said it was “impossible” to say how many jobs the scheme would protect.
“It’s impossible for me to predict given the uncertainty of the exact shape of the labour market,” he said.
The package will cost the Treasury an estimated £300 million a month for every million workers who take up the scheme – with Government contributions per worker capped at £697.92 per month.
By comparison, the furlough scheme has cost the Government £39.3 billion – about £6 billion a month.
Asked how the new package would be paid for, the Chancellor said there would be “difficult” decisions in the future.