UK Economy Rebounds as COVID Restrictions Ease


Source: Darshini David, BBC News 


Vocabulary in context (Merriam Webster):  resurgence: \ ri-ˈsər-jən(t)s \ a rising again into life, activity, or prominence have-nots: \ ˈhav-ˌnät , -ˈnät \ one that is poor especially in material wealth 


The UK economy grew by 4.8% between April and June, according to official figures, as most businesses emerged from lockdown. Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that the expansion in gross domestic product (GDP) was fuelled by retail, restaurants and hotels. Education also boosted the economy as schools reopened in the second quarter. However, the figure was slightly below the 5% the Bank of England expected. The UK economy is now 4.4% smaller than it was before the pandemic. Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the BBC: "Today's figures show that the economy is recovering very strongly, exceeding many people's expectations. "But I'm not complacent. The economy and our public finances have experienced a significant shock. It is going to take us time to fully recover from that." Capital Economics said it expected the economy to return to pre-Covid levels later this year. "We are comfortable with our view that monthly GDP will return to its February 2020 pre-pandemic size by October and that the economy may yet surprise most forecasters by emerging from the pandemic without much scarring," said senior UK economist Ruth Gregory. In April, non-essential retailers reopened, as well as gyms, hairdressers and outdoor dining. In May, pubs, restaurants and cafes were allowed to serve customers indoors, while theatres, galleries and cinemas were allowed to open their doors. The main driver of growth was consumer spending, which rose by 7.3% over the quarter, ahead of expectations. The UK is not just a nation of shopkeepers, but social animals. And it's that large proportion of "social spending" - on hotels, restaurants and leisure - that made our economy so vulnerable to lockdowns. The UK was the fastest shrinking of the G7 nations in 2020 and conversely, maybe one of the fastest of the big players to recover in 2021 as restrictions lift. The consumer has led the way, driving output to within 5% of pre-pandemic levels, despite the Delta variant of Covid. It's growth that some feared just months ago would take far longer to materialise. But what happens next is still uncertain. The safety net that has protected livelihoods - the furlough scheme - ends in October. Economists think there will be some job losses, albeit far fewer than assumed a year ago. The biggest risk, however, will come from further variants and a resurgence in infections and restrictions. Policymakers are assuming we're done with the latter. A year ago, they were predicting there'd be no more national lockdowns: let's hope they're right this time. If so, the impressive vaccination rate in the UK should stand the economy in good stead - others are not that fortunate. Be it health or wealth, it's access to vaccinations that may increasingly make the difference between the haves and have-nots as we try to escape the grip of this pandemic.

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