UK Government borrowing surged to £62.1 billion to April - the highest figure for any month on record - after heavy spending in the face of coronavirus, according to new figures.

The numbers were released as George Osborne, the former Chancellor, suggested Britain’s recovery from the coronavirus outbreak could be swifter than that from the 2008 financial crash but he warned that there would be “hard choices” ahead for Boris Johnson and his colleagues on tax and spending.

The Office for National Statistics said public sector borrowing - excluding banks owned by the state - was £51.1bn higher than the same month last year.

The figure is significantly higher than analysts had predicted with a consensus of economists predicting £30.7bn for the month.

However, it is slightly lower than the £66.6bn estimate made by the Office for Budget Responsibility last month.

It comes after the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, stepped up financial support for businesses and employees after vast areas of the economy were forced to halt due to the coronavirus lockdown.

A fall in tax receipts also significantly contributed to the rise in borrowing with central Government receipts sliding by 26.5 per cent for the month compared to April 2019.

This was driven by a combination of contracting economic activity, rising unemployment and weaker earnings, and tax breaks given to companies in response to the lockdown.

The ONS also cautioned that its first estimate of borrowing April could be significantly revised as the full impact of the outbreak becomes clearer.

Meanwhile, the ONS revised borrowing by the state in March 2020 upwards by £11.7bn to £14.7bn.

It said this was driven by a reduction in previous estimates of tax receipts and National Insurance Contributions.

As a result of the jump in borrowing, public sector debt rose to £1,887.6bn at the end of April; £118.4bn higher than April 2019.

The ONS explained how the Government had borrowed £62.7bn over the 12 months to the end of March, representing a £22.5bn rise on the previous year.

Last month, it jumped £9.3bn to a higher-than-forecast £48.7bn in the financial year to March 31.

Charlie McCurdy, a researcher at the Resolution Foundation think-tank, said: "The latest borrowing figures offer a stark illustration of the fiscal costs of coronavirus and the lockdown measures required to contain it, with the Government borrowing as much last month as it during the whole of last year.

"But while there is significant pressure on the public finances, there are no signs that the Government is struggling to find the cash.

"Record low interest rates mean the UK's higher debt burden should remain more than manageable," he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Osborne suggested the economic recovery following the Covid-19 outbreak could be quicker than that which followed the global financial crisis of 2008.

The former Chancellor called on the Government to set out its longer-term plan for the economy to instil confidence in the markets.

Asked if he thought the economy would "bounce back", he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I'm not sure bounce is the right word. It will recover.

"In fact, the damage being done alone is actually less than the damage that was done during the banking crisis because that completely clogged up all the credit system of the economy."

Mr Osborne added: "The drop is much sharper, this quarter of the year is an extraordinary fall in GDP. The recovery can be quicker and the overall damage can be less but if I was in the Government now I would be starting to set out what my longer-term plan is, not just on the deficit but getting all these people who are unemployed back into work."

Mr Osborne, who now edits the London Evening Standard newspaper, said the UK would now be "poorer" as a result of the pandemic and the Government would have to make "hard choices" as a result.

He noted: "Over time we have to come to terms with the fact that Britain like every other country is poorer than we thought it was going to be and our economy is smaller than we thought it would be.

"And that I'm afraid will lead to hard choices about what we can afford, how much we want to spend and how many taxes are raised to pay for it."

The former Chancellor said he believed the UK recovered "more quickly than others" following the global financial crisis.

He added: "Austerity was a consequence of the global financial crash in every single Western country.

"And Britain recovered more quickly than others, created more jobs than anyone else and actually had less austerity than most countries precisely because we actually embraced a plan.

"We instilled confidence in that coalition Government that we knew what we were doing and we had a grip on events and rather than being pushed around by events."