The UK government achieved its largest ever surplus for the month of January last month, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the government earned £14.9 billion more in taxes than it spent in January, the highest figure since records began in 1993. It was a £5.6bn increase on January last year.

The ONS said rises in capital gains taxes and self-assessment income taxes were behind the rise.

It will provide a welcome boost to Chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of his Spring Statement economic update. With uncertainty surrounding the economic impact of Brexit looming, a higher surplus and lower bowering should give Hammond some room to manoeuvre on spending.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said: "A record high surplus on the January public finances provides a much-needed welcome boost for Chancellor Philip Hammond as he faces a worrying backdrop to his Spring Statement on 13 March.

"With the economy clearly struggling early on in 2019 after a sharp slowdown in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the Brexit situation highly uncertain, the chancellor will have a lot on his mind when he presents the Spring Statement.

"It looks highly likely that he will have to announce downgraded growth forecasts from the OBR [Office for Budget Responsibility] at least for the near term, with possible negative ramifications for expected budget deficits."