UK economic recovery gains speed

Photo: EPA Rishi Sunak

UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 downturn gained speed in April as lockdown measures were eased and industrial activity returned to pre-pandemic levels, Reuters reported. Figures released from the Office for National Statistics confirmed that output edged up 27.6% from a year earlier when the country was practically halted by restrictions.

The service sector enjoyed robust growth as non-essential retail and hospitality businesses opened their doors after months of closure and schools fully restarted.

Economic output rose by 2.3% month-on-month in April, marking the fastest growth since July, the ONS said, and slightly above forecasted estimates of 2.2% increase.

However British economic output remained 3.7% below its level in February 2020, before the pandemic led to lockdown measures, the ONS said. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to fully lift lockdown restrictions in England on 21 June, helped by fast roll-out of Covid-19 vaccination that has brightened Britain's economic outlook. But with the Delta variant of Covid-19 first detected in India spreading fast, Johnson has said the lifting of lockdown could be delayed. Output in the services sector jumped by 3.4% in monthly terms in April beating all forecasts that pointed to growth of 2.8%. Schools reopening added 0.7 percentage points to GDP growth in April, while the retail and wholesale sector added 0.9 percentage points, the ONS said.

"Today's figures are a promising sign that our economy is beginning to recover," finance minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement. Last month the Bank of England raised its forecast for British economic growth in 2021 to 7.25% from February's estimate of 5.0%. That would be the fastest annual growth since 1941 when Britain was rearming during World War Two. But it comes after output plunged by almost 10%, the biggest drop in more than 300 years.

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