Scotland and West Midlands among worst GDP hit in first Covid lockdown

Scotland and West Midlands were among worst hit parts of UK in brutal first Covid lockdown losing a FIFTH of GDP… while London, Wales and NI escaped more lightly

  • ONS figures show varying impact of first blanket coronavirus lockdown in the UK
  • West Midlands the worst affected region while Scotland hit harder than England
  • London lost much less activity while the reduction in Wales and NI was smaller 

Scotland and the West Midlands were among the worst hit by the first brutal coronavirus lockdown, new figures showed today.

The impact on GDP between April and June last year was worse north of the border, where it fell by 19.4 per cent, compared to 19 per cent across England.

The West Midlands was the worst affected English region, with activity plunging 21 per cent over the quarter, while the South East and East also endured massive falls.

However, some parts of the UK escaped significantly more lightly than others, with London losing 16 16.6 per cent, while in Wales the figure was 15.1 per cent and in Northern Ireland 13.6 per cent.

The varying picture emerged in a breakdown released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today.

The varying picture for the second quarter last year emerged in a breakdown released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today

The UK economy as a whole dived by 18.8 per cent between April and June last year, as the first wave of ‘stay at home’ restrictions were in force to tackle Covid.

It came after a 2.8 per cent fall between January and March – meaning that overall the country is expected to have suffered the worst recession in 300 years.

The latest GDP data up to November show that output is still around 8.6 per cent lower than before the pandemic hit.

But the gap between the impact on different parts of the UK have been underlined by the latest figures.

Scotland, where Nicola Sturgeon has taken a harder line on lockdown, saw a 19.4 per cent reduction, while England was down 19 per cent.

All nine English regions showed negative growth over the three months. 

The West Midlands had the biggest fall of 21 per cent, while the East of England was also badly hit with 20.9 per cent, the South East 20.6 per cent and the North West was 20.3 per cent lower.

But there were smaller declines in London and the North East, where activity fell by 16.6 per cent and 17.5 per cent respectively. 

Scotland was the worst affected of the home nations in the second quarter last year

The UK is feared to be on track for a double dip recession after GDP figures for November showed a fall of 2.6 per cent amid renewed lockdowns. In this chart, 100 represents the size of the economy in 2018 

Last week the IMF downgraded its forecast for UK growth this year to 4.5 per cent as renewed coronavirus lockdowns smother the recovery.

The respected body slashed estimates for the British economy by 1.4 percentage points from its October figure, as well as predicting more gloom for European countries.

However, it said the rollout of vaccines should mean a stronger performance globally, with the US and Japan in a better position than expected.

The grim picture emerged as the UK looks on track for a double dip recession, with draconian restrictions once again wreaking havoc on businesses.

In percentage terms growth will be high by historical standards over the coming years, but only because the scale of the downturn last year was so huge that the economy is starting from a lower base. 

The IMF estimates the UK was the worst-hit of the world’s seven largest advanced economies last year, suffering a 10 per cent decline. 

Only Spain – which is outside the top seven – suffered more with a 11.1 per cent fall, although there have been questions about how comparable the international figures are.

The Bank of England forecast in November that the UK economy would regain its pre-pandemic level in the first quarter of next year.

UK GDP is expected to recover by 4.5 per cent this year, compared to the 5.9 per cent the IMF anticipated before. 

Brexit disruption in the first quarter this year is also likely to reduce output by around 1 per cent, according to the updated World Economic Outlook. 

But the prospects for 2022 appear better, with a 5 per cent expansion on the cards.  

Coronavirus is thought to have inflicted the worst hit to UK GDP since the Great Frost of 1709 

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