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The government borrowed £6.6 billion less in the financial year to October, compared with the same period last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Public sector borrowing, excluding public sector banks, was £54.3bn in the financial year-to-date, between April and October. Earlier this year, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast that the government would borrow £69.5bn in the 2015/16 financial year, down from more than £90bn in 2014/15.

The latest borrowing figures come less than a week before the Chancellor George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement and spending review. Today's figures mean that the government has to borrow just £15bn in the next six months. That unlikely prospects will probably result in the OBR having to raise its forecast for this year ahead of the Autumn Statement. It also means that Mr Osborne will likely step back from his pledge to eliminate the deficit by 2019-2020.

Whilst warning that monthly borrowing figures are often volatile, the ONS said that public sector borrowing actually increased by £1.1bn to £8.2bn compared with October 2014 - the largest figure for the month since 2009.

Public sector debt rose £70.4bn to £1.526 trillion in the year to October, the equivalent of 80.5% of the UK's GDP.