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Balls and Osborne clash over borrowing figures

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls clashed with Chancellor George Osborne over Government borrowing figures in his response to the Autumn Statement.

Speaking after Osborne delivered his economic update last week in Parliament, Balls expressed disbelief that borrowing is set to be lower this year than last year and claimed Osborne is “failing” to give the full figures.

He pledged to look closely at the figures included in the report to ensure there is nothing “dodgy” about them.

The OBR figures show borrowing and the budget deficit will be lower than last year despite OBR estimates that economic output will fall by 0.1 per cent in 2012.

Balls said: “The chancellor failed to give us the cash figures adjusted for borrowing for this year, next year, the year after.

“National debt is rising, it is not falling. Over the past two years the chancellor was expecting growth of 4.6 per cent and it has been 0.6 per cent, meaning Britain is falling behind in the global race. He has failed on growth and the deficit and what is his answer? More of the same.”

Osborne replied by accusing Balls of writing his speech before he heard the statement and claiming Britain was “on course” for recovery.

He said: “We do not fiddle the numbers in the Treasury anymore, that was when he was in the Treasury. We have an independent Office for Budget Responsibility.”

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