News World UK economy takes 25% hit from COVID, recovery seen slow

UK economy takes 25% hit from COVID, recovery seen slow

Britain’s economy shrank by a quarter over March and April as entire sectors were shuttered by the coronavirus lockdown, in what looks likely to be the bottom of a “catastrophic” crash before a long and slow recovery.

In a slump dwarfing previous downturns, the economy contracted by 20.4% in April from March, when it shrank by nearly 6%. It was 24.5% smaller than in April 2019.

Both of April’s readings represented bigger declines than the unprecedentedly weak forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists. The Office for National Statistics said the economy had shrunk back to its size in 2002.

“This is catastrophic, literally on a scale never seen before in history,” Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, said. “The real issue is what happens next.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the figures were no surprise as Britain’s huge services sector was being hit particularly hard by social distancing measures, but he said a recovery would follow.

“Coronavirus is likely to hit a country like the UK economically very hard, we depend on services, on human contact,” he said. “But we’re also a very resilient and a dynamic economy and we will bounce back.”

Much of Britain’s retail sector is due to open its doors next week and the government last month urged people who could not do their jobs at home to return to work as lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey – who has warned of the deepest recession in three centuries this year – said on Wednesday he could see some signs of a recovery but long-term economic damage remained likely.

But the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says Britain could suffer the worst downturn among the countries it covers, with an 11.5% slump this year.

The BoE is expected to announce a fresh increase of at least 100 billion pounds ($126 billion) in its bond-buying firepower next week.

IFS director Johnson told Sky News the hit might be short, if the roughly one third of private sector employees who are temporarily laid off can return to work, consumers go out and spend again and Britain avoids a second COVID-19 wave.

But he said it was more likely that unemployment would jump when the government’s wage subsidy scheme ended in October, and that Britain would limp into 2021 with the risk of a Brexit shock also on the horizon.

Britain left the European Union at the end of January and began a no-change transition period which lasts for the rest of 2020. Talks on a broad new deal have made little progress.

The ONS said output in the dominant services sector fell by 19% in April from March while manufacturing was down more than 24% and construction crashed by 40%.

In the three months to April, the overall economy contracted by 10.4% from the previous three-month period.

(Reuetrs)

Top Stories

Nicosia hosts Cyprus-Greece-Egypt Trilateral Summit

Nicosia on Wednesday is hosting the 8th Cyprus-Greece-Egypt Trilateral Summit with the leaders of the three countries set to discuss several issues of mutual...

Partly cloudy on Wednesday, possible afternoon showers

Partly cloudy on Wednesday with isolated showers and possible thunderstorms and hail - mainly inland and in the mountains. Winds will be light in the...

EU takes legal action against ‘golden passport’ schemes in Cyprus, Malta

The European Union's executive said it was launching legal action against Cyprus and Malta over their investor citizenship programmes, also known as "golden passport" schemes. The schemes...

Total of 152 new cases of covid-19 on Tuesday

The Health Ministry announced 153 new COVID-19 cases on 20 October, out of 4,410 laboratory tests, taking confirmed infections to 2, 839. The break-down of...

Stench in Kokkinotrimithia and Mammari due to farms and burned garbage

Citizens of Kokkinotrimithia and Mammari contacted philenews and complained that at the Kafkalla location some people threw a huge quantity of garbage and set...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...