Pandemic lockdown: UK economy contracts record 20.4% in April

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The UK’s economy contracted by 20.4% in April – the largest monthly contraction on record – as the UK spent its first full month in lockdown.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the “historic” fall affected virtually all areas of activity.

The contraction is three times greater than the decline seen during the whole of the 2008 to 2009 economic downturn.

But analysts said April was likely to be the worst month, as the government began easing the lockdown in May.

The ONS also published figures for the three months from February to April, which showed a decline of 10.4% compared with the previous three-month period.

Month-on-month GDP

How bad is this in real terms?

“April’s fall in GDP is the biggest the UK has ever seen, more than three times larger than last month and almost 10 times larger than the steepest pre-Covid-19 fall,” said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS.

“In April, the economy was around 25% smaller than in February.

“Virtually all areas of the economy were hit, with pubs, education, health and car sales all giving the biggest contributions to this historic fall.”

Carmakers and housebuilders were particularly badly hit, Mr Athow added.

However, he told the BBC’s Today programme: “It’s highly likely April will be the low point.

“Our own surveys and wider indicators have suggested a pick-up in economy activity, but I think it’s really too early to know how quickly economic activity will recover in the coming months.”

What does the government say about it?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “In line with many other economies around the world, coronavirus is having a severe impact on our economy.

“The lifelines we’ve provided with our furlough scheme, grants, loans and tax cuts have protected thousands of businesses and millions of jobs – giving us the best chance of recovering quickly as the economy reopens.”

The chancellor added that life would get “a little bit more back to normal” once High Street shops could reopen.

That is set to happen on Monday in England, while shops in Northern Ireland have already been allowed to resume trading. Scotland and Wales have their own timetables for easing restrictions.

SOURCE: BBC NEWS

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