12 August 2020 | UK NEWS
The UK has officially hit a recession following months of different forms of lockdown in response to the recent coronavirus pandemic, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak warning that the “hard times are here”.
The UK experienced two quarters of economic decline in a row, which constitutes an official recession. Between April and June, the UK suffered its biggest economic slump in history. The economy shrank by 20.4% in comparison to the first three months of the year.
This is the first recession since 2009, following the 2008 economic crisis.
However, there are signs of an economic uptick in June. The economy has risen month on month since then, although it is still below its February levels by 17.2%.
Rushi Sunak said of the recession: “I’ve said before that hard times were ahead, and today’s figures confirm that hard times are here.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months many more will,” he said, adding: “I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity.”
In an interview with Sky News, Mr Sunak said he remained confident that the economy would get back to its normal levels soon:
“As people get back to going shopping, or going out for a meal, or indeed getting back to their office, they will see that it’s a new normal, it’s a safe normal.”
The decline in GDP was more than that of some other countries, including France, Italy and Germany but not Spain.
When asked why the UK economy had been hit so hard compared to these other countries, Mr Sunak said: “Social activities – for example, going out for a meal, going to the cinema, shopping … comprise a much larger share of our economy.”
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds blamed Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the scale of the economic decline, saying: “A downturn was inevitable after lockdown – but Johnson’s jobs crisis wasn’t.”