UK economy shrank by record 10% in 2020

12 Feb 2021

The UK economy shrank by almost a tenth in 2020 as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic adversely affected businesses, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The data shows that UK GDP declined by 9.9% last year, which is the largest contraction on record.

The slump came after a historic recession at the start of the year, caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February and March. The economy began to rebound in the third quarter but remains 7.8% smaller than it was at the end of 2019, the ONS said.

The annual slump wiped out seven years of growth, taking the UK economy back to the size it was in 2013. The ONS said the UK economy did recover slightly, recording 1% of growth in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Commenting on the figures, Alpesh Paleja, Lead Economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: 'The UK economy grew slightly towards the end of the last year, as a second lockdown in November was partly offset by a pick-up in GDP over December. But with restrictions tightening again in the New Year, we'll likely see further dips in activity. 

'Getting the pandemic under control is critical to our recovery, and speedy rollout of vaccines gives us some hope. But until this ends the stop-start cycle of lockdowns, businesses will need support to continue in parallel with restrictions.'

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