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Britain's budget deficit falls - reaction
Britain's budget deficit fell slightly last year, according to the latest UK public finance data from the Office for National Statistics. Here are some expert views.

George Buckley, Deutsche Bank

In the grand scheme of things it's not huge, but it still just illustrates how the public finances remain a concern for the government.

it's going to take a long time to get back to where the government would like it to be in terms of the underlying fiscal deficit, back at zero.

It has been falling over recent years, so it's encouraging news. They've taken about a third off the deficit, but that's after three years of relatively decent austerity.

There's a long way to go yet and it's going to be for much longer than the rest of the time that this coalition government has in power.

Howard Archer, IHS Global Insight

Some modestly good news for the Chancellor.

Mind you the rate of improvement in 2012/13 makes a snail look fast, but at least the Chancellor can say the finances moved in the right direction.

However, the March public finance data are unlikely to take the heat off the Chancellor and he faces another very difficult year ahead on both the growth and the public finance fronts.

David Tinsley, BNP Paribas

There's a small crumb to be had from the fact that borrowing is less than last year, but really that's a political point not an economic one.

The substantive point is that tax revenues are very weak because the economy - nominal GDP growth - has been very weak.

The spending side looks better, the government seems to be delivering on spending reductions but failing on getting growth and therefore revenues, and that's why the fiscal position isn't improving. It's flatlining.

Brian Hilliard, Societe Generale

I don't think it alters the basic story at all. The public finances are still under pressure, the key thing is that the deficit is projected to rise next year because we don't have the benefit of the one-off factor of the transfer of the Royal Mail pension plan.

Victoria Clarke, Investec

The Chancellor just made it in under the OBR's forecast, albeit by the skin of his teeth.

The bigger test will be if he can continue to meet the forecasts for the years ahead, and we think it's looking vulnerable because of the weakness of euro area, which could decrease tax revenues and mean higher spending pressures.

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