WASHINGTON Oct 11 The British government will
release a budget update and new fiscal forecasts on Dec. 4 and
the focus will remain on reducing the country's deficit, finance
minister George Osborne said on Friday.
"Britain continues to have some very serious public
challenges that have to be addressed," Osborne told reporters
during a visit to Washington for an annual meeting of the
International Monetary Fund.
Britain's budget deficit widened sharply during the global
financial crisis but has come down by about a third as the
"It's still too big," Osborne said.
On Sept. 30 he told members of his Conservative Party that
he would return Britain to a budget surplus during the next
parliament, due to run between 2015 and 2020, as long as the
economy continued to mend.
Earlier this week, the IMF raised its forecasts for
Britain's economic growth by more than for any other big
advanced economy. Also this week, British business leaders urged
Osborne to do more to ensure the recovery gains speed.
In his comments on Friday, Osborne declined to say how the
improved outlook for public finances might influence fiscal
policy. But he said the government's focus was on reducing the
"When we've got resource available, we have got to make sure
that we are doing what we can to reduce our deficit and our
debt," he said, citing the 3.2 billion-pound ($5.10 billion)
sale of state-owned shares in bank Lloyds last month.
The government has also sold a majority stake in the postal
service, Royal Mail, which made its market debut on
Britain's government gives an update on public accounts in
November or December each year while the budget is usually
announced in March. The so-called Autumn Statement includes
fiscal forecasts produced by the independent Office of Budget