The British economy shrank by a record 9.9 per cent last
year because of the impact of the COVID pandemic despite
managing strong growth in the second half, according to data
from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which said in
a statement today that the contraction marked the largest
annual fall in UK gross domestic product (GDP) on record.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said the economy had suffered a
‘serious shock’ from the health crisis.
The data came a week after the Bank of England forecast
economic recovery on the back of the United Kingdom’s
vaccines rollout that is under way.
GDP grew by 1 per cent in the fourth quarter ending
December, after an upwardly-revised third-quarter expansion
of 16.1 per cent, the statement added.
"Today's figures show that the economy has experienced a
serious shock as a result of the pandemic, which has been
felt by countries around the world," Chancellor of the
exchequer Sunak said in reaction to the data.
"While there are some positive signs of the economy's
resilience over the winter, we know that the current
lockdown continues to have a significant impact on many
people and businesses,” he said.
"That's why my focus remains fixed on doing everything we
can to protect jobs, businesses and livelihoods," he said,
adding he would set out further support measures in his
upcoming budget on March 3.
ONS said the economy also grew by 1.2 per cent in December
alone, on the back of looser virus restrictions in parts of
the country in the run-up to Christmas.
Despite two successive quarters of growth in the second half
of last year, the economy remains 7.8 per cent smaller than
its pre-pandemic level.