Sunak warns of ‘significant recession’ after UK economy shrank 2%

Rishi Sunak Covid-19 Press Conference 08/04 by .
UK Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak.

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned the country faced “significant recession” after official figures showed that the economy shrank by 2 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

“Technically a recession is defined as two quarters of negative GDP, we’ve now had one… So yes, it is now very likely that the UK is facing a significant recession at the moment and this year,” Xinhua news agency quoted Sunak as saying on Sky News on Wednesday.

The GDP was estimated to have fallen by 2 per cent in Q1 2020, compared with the last three months of 2019, the largest quarterly fall since the last quarter of 2008, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Meanwhile, when compared with the same quarter a year ago, the country’s GDP shrank by 1.6 per cent in Q1 2020, with the biggest drop since the fourth quarter of 2009.

Rishi Sunak Covid-19 Press Conference 08/04 by .
08/04/2020. London, United Kingdom. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak holds the Covid-19 Digital Press Conference with NHS Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis and Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Dame Angela Maclean in 10 Downing Street. Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.

“This release captures the first direct effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the government measures taken to reduce transmission of the virus,” said the ONS.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons that 144 National Health Service (NHS) staff and 131 care staff have died from COVID-19.

He then unveiled an extra 600 million pounds ($733.8 million) for infection control in care homes to fight the disease.

“The number of outbreaks is down and the number of fatalities in care homes is now well down. We are making progress,” he told MPs.

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CORONA IN LONDON: The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square. (Photo by Ray Tang/Xinhua)

Chairing the Downing Street daily press briefing, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick told reporters that it was “essential” that care homes were given the support they need and deserve.

“I don’t underestimate the challenge” faced in them, he said, adding “there is more we can do”.

As of Thursday, the UK accounted for the second highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world at 33,264, while with 230,985 cases, it was the third highest globally.

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