The UK Government borrowed a record £15bn in February, according to the Office of National Statistics, an increase of more than £6bn compared to last year. 

The figures will complicate the ambitions of Chancellor George Osborne as he prepares to deliver his third budget statement to the House of Commons later today. Osborne has planned to reduce government borrowing, along with public expenditures, in an effort to eliminate the country's budget deficit by 2017.

However, the sharp increase will no doubt provide fodder for the Chancellor's Opposition critics, who have accused his austerity drive- the steepest since the Second World War - of stunting economic growth and adding to a decades-high rate of unemployment.

Public Sector Net Borrowing, as the figures are more widely known, hit £15.183bn last month, the ONS said. The number was significantly higher than the £8.875bn Economists had forecast. The number does not include totals related to the Bank of England's programme of quantitative easing.

February tax revenues fell 2.7 percent from the same month last year. the ONS said, while public spending rose 8.3 percent. Some good news for the Chancellor, however, was buried in the relase, with a public-sector net cash surplus of £7.8bn. Economists had predicted a £1bn surplus.

Net debt rose to £995bn, which is around 63 percent of GDP, up from 58.8 percent a year earlier.

Foreign exchange traders reacted quickly to the news, with sterling falling for a third consecutive day against the euro, taking it to a one-week low against the single currency and reversing mild gains from earlier in the session.

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UK Chancellor George Osborne and Political rival Ed Balls are set for Budget Showdown

The Borrowing figures came shortly before a release of the minutes from the Bank of England's interest rate decision on 8 March. Records indicate the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted 9-0 in favour of holding its key lending rate at 0. 5 percent - the lowest since 1994 . The MPC was slightly more divided on its controversial £325bn asset purchase programme, with committee members David Miles and Adam Posen arguing for a £25bn boost.