Business International

UK officially in recession for first time in 11 years

The UK economy suffered its biggest slump on record between April and June as coronavirus lockdown measures pushed the country officially into recession.

The economy shrank 20.4% compared with the first three months of the year.

Household spending plunged as shops were ordered to close, while factory and construction output also fell.

This pushed the UK into its first technical recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of economic decline – since 2009.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the BBC that the government was “grappling with something that is unprecedented” and that it was “a very difficult and uncertain time”.

But 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.”

How are ordinary people being affected?

Kate Treglown, 44, of Walthamstow in east London, is currently out of work as a result of the coronavirus crisis. She was made redundant from her advertising job at the end of July after being on furlough.

“I worked for 16-and-a-half years for an advertising agency that promoted live events. The work totally dried up in May,” she told the BBC.

Kate says she feels “stuck in limbo” – keen to try something new, but unsure of when her children- who she has been home schooling – will return to school.

She has been “keeping an eye” on the jobs market.

“There is work. There are jobs available. But when I look on LinkedIn, every single job has hundreds of applications, so competition is very stiff.

“I feel women are really carrying the burden of this pandemic with regards to the childcare, whether working or not. It’s made me feel quite depressed at times.

“My redundancy money is only going to last so long and I’m scared of what the future holds for us at the moment.”

Is there any sign of things getting better?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the economy bounced back in June as government restrictions on movement started to ease.

On a month-on-month basis, the economy grew by 8.7% in June, after growth of 1.8% in May.

But Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “Despite this, gross domestic product (GDP) in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.”

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