The UK government borrowed more last month than in any December since monthly records began 30 years ago, reflecting the huge cost of energy support, soaring debt interest linked to rising inflation.

The Office for National Statistics said public sector net borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, was £27.4 billion in December, up from £10.7 billion a year earlier.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to borrowing of £17.75 billion for December.

The ONS said the large figure for borrowing in December was "largely because of a sharp rise in spending on energy support schemes and an increase in debt interest."

"Overall, today's worse-than-expected public finances figures will only embolden the Chancellor in the Budget on March 15 to keep a tight grip on the public finances," Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

She added that finance minister Jeremy Hunt would likely need to wait until closer to the next general election - due in January 2025 at the latest - before he can announce tax cuts.

Debt interest accrued by the UK government in December totalled £17.3 billion, the highest figure for the month since monthly records began and reflecting the impact of double-digit inflation on index-linked government bonds.

Borrowing for December was some £9.8 billion more than the £17.6 billion forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

However, almost all of the difference reflected a revaluation of student loans last year, incorporated into the OBR's forecasts but not yet shown in the ONS data.

The ONS said it would record the revaluation once more definitive estimates were available.

An ONS statistician said the true gap between the ONS and OBR estimates was likely only about £1.2 billion, if they were to account for student loans in the same way.