UK economy grew 6.6% in July as rate of rebound slows

A British high street
A British high street - (Copyright PA Wire)
7:43am, Fri 11 Sep 2020
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The UK economy grew by 6.6% in July as the rate of the country’s financial recovery slowed down, according to official data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said GDP increased for the third consecutive month in July after lockdown restrictions eased further, but remained 11.7% below pre-virus levels.

A consensus of analysts predicted a 6.8% month-to-month increase.

Figures showed that the economic rebound decelerated after the UK had reported 8.7% growth in June.

The ONS said the UK has now clawed back around half of the output it lost after the pandemic fully hit the economy.

It reported growth across all of the major sectors, with particularly strong growth in the construction industry.

Construction output jumped by 17.6% in July, driven by an increase in new housing, but still remained 11.6% below the level reported in February.

Meanwhile, the production sector reported output 7% below pre-Covid levels after it grew by 5.2% in July following an increase in manufacturing.

The services sector increased by 6.1% in July, below analysts’ predictions, after restaurants, pubs and cafes were given the green light to welcome customers again.

ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “While it has continued steadily on the path towards recovery, the UK economy still has to make up nearly half of the GDP lost since the start of the pandemic.

“Education grew strongly as some children returned to school, while pubs, campsites and hairdressers all saw notable improvements.

“Car sales exceeded pre-crisis levels for the first time, with showrooms having a particularly busy time.

“All areas of manufacturing, particularly distillers and car-makers, saw improvements, while house-building also continued to recover.”

The rise in Covid cases and return of public health restrictions means we are coming towards the end of the easy economic wins from restarting activity

James Smith, research director at the Resolution Foundation think tank, said: “The UK economy continued to rebound over the summer as lockdown restrictions eased.

“But it’s the level of activity that matters, which remains hugely down on pre-pandemic levels.

“More worryingly, the rise in Covid cases and return of public health restrictions means we are coming towards the end of the easy economic wins from restarting activity.

“With emergency support to firms and workers being withdrawn, far tougher times lie ahead this autumn.”

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