By Marcus Leach

The month of May saw the UK government borrow more than was originally expected, as, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), tax receipts fell and spending rose.

The ONS figures, released today (Tuesday) showed that public borrowing, excluding financial interventions such as bank bail-outs, hit £17.9 billion, compared with £15.2 billion the previous year.

Analysts had expected May's figure to be in the region of £14.8 billion, and the latest data could add to worries over the health of the economy.

"Plan A, it would appear, is kaput," Olann Kerrison, head of product management at Moneycorp, said.

"The spike in public sector borrowing, to £17.9bn in May, is a body blow to the Chancellor and the coalition government's handling of the economy.

"There is often a dip in tax revenues in May, following the end of the tax year, but this doesn't hide the fact that borrowing is significantly higher than in May 2011 when it was just £15.2bn.

"The simple fact of the matter is that tax revenues are down – and borrowing up – because the economy is weak. Unfortunately, there is every chance the economy will weaken further in the months ahead as the Eurozone unravels.

"Domestic demand is weak, and so is demand from overseas, especially from the Eurozone. This is decimating tax revenues and forcing the Government to borrow more.

"The Labour spin machine will be all over these numbers, reiterating that austerity doesn't work."

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