The British economy has recorded its biggest slump on record, as official figures released on Wednesday showed the Gross Domestic Product dropped by over one-fifth in the second quarter – April to June – as lockdown measures were implemented in the country to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, BBC reported.
The Office for National Statistics said the country’s GDP fell by 20.4% in the April-June quarter. This is the biggest quarterly decline since the country started maintaining comparable records in 1955, The Guardian reported. In the first quarter of January to March, the GDP had declined by 2.3%.
The newspaper said that according to economists, a dip in the GDP for two successive quarters is considered a recession. The slump was mainly due to closure of shops, restaurants, schools and hotels because of restrictions imposed to check Covid-19, the Office for National Statistics said.
Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds blamed Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the poor state of the economy. “The prime minister will say there’s only so much he could do during a global pandemic but that doesn’t explain why our economy is tanking so badly compared to other countries,” she said.
Britain’s economy suffered worse than that of any other G-7 country during the pandemic, according to government data. The United Kingdom’s figures were even worse than the 12.1% quarterly drop in the Eurozone, a monetary union of 19 of 27 European members that have adopted the Euro as their currency.
Looking at statistics for June alone, the country’s economy bounced back, growing by 8.7%.
Job figures have shown that about 2,20,000 people are currently unemployed, according to the BBC. The government is, however, providing salary support packages so that firms can retain workers. More than 12 lakh employers have used this package to furlough 96 lakh people, costing the government 33.8 billion pounds (Rs 3.29 lakh crore). The programme is due to end in October.
At an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, “I think most people would agree that that’s [the salary support package is] not something that is sustainable indefinitely.” The chancellor, however, said he would support job creation in new areas.
As many as 3,13,402 people have been infected with the coronavirus in the United Kingdom, and the toll stands at 46,611, according to John Hopkins University data.