Britain has entered the deepest recession since records began as official figures on Wednesday showed the economy shrank by more than any other major nation during the coronavirus outbreak in the three months to June.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic prosperity, fell in the second quarter by 20.4% compared with the previous three months – the biggest quarterly decline since comparable records began in 1955.
After a decline of 2.2% in the first quarter, the figures confirm the UK economy plunged into recession after the Covid-19 outbreak spread in March and the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain it. Economists consider two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP as the technical definition of a recession.
After resisting the launch of lockdown until later than other countries around the world and relaxing controls at a slower pace, the ONS said the UK had plunged into the deepest decline of any G7 nation in the second quarter. The downturn is also deeper than any other country in the EU and surpassed a 12.1% quarterly drop in the eurozone.
Warning that the government was making a historic mistake by winding down the furlough wage subsidy scheme as the country falls into recession, Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, said the downturn was a tragedy for the British people that had happened on Boris Johnson’s watch.
“The prime minister will say there’s only so much he could do during a global pandemic but that doesn’t explain why our economy is tanking so badly compared to other countries,” she said.