UK Politics

UK economy still 11.7% below pre-pandemic level in July – ONS

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The economy remained 11.7% below its coronavirus pandemic peak in July as the UK emerges from its sharpest recession on record, official figures show

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.6% in the month as more parts of the economy awakened from the enforced hibernation of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The deep sleep for activity sparked the largest recession in UK history in the second quarter of the year – a slump of 20.4% – driven by the first full month of COVID-19 restrictions in April.

'Hard times are here'

Month-on-month growth was recorded in May and June.

ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said of July's growth: "While it has continued steadily on the path towards recovery, the UK economy still has to make up nearly half of the GDP lost since the start of the pandemic.

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"Education grew strongly as some children returned to school, while pubs, campsites and hairdressers all saw notable improvements.

"Car sales exceeded pre-crisis levels for the first time with showrooms having a particularly busy time.

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"All areas of manufacturing, particularly distillers and car makers, saw improvements, while housebuilding also continued to recover.

"However, both production and construction remain well below previous levels."

The update on the economy was released as ministers come under greater pressure to heed warnings of a deepening employment crisis as the Job Retention Scheme, that has supported wages of almost 10 million people during the crisis, is wound down.

A committee of MPs became the latest group to join the bandwagon on Friday, calling on the chancellor Rishi Sunak to introduce targeted support for sectors still struggling to re-open because of coronavirus rules.

There are dire predictions, most recently from the Bank of England, that the UK could have three million unemployed by the end of the year while business groups say an exit from the EU without a trade deal in January risks deepening the damage.

After the ONS update, Mr Sunak said: "While today's figures are welcome, I know that many people are rightly worried about tRead More – Source