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Gloucestershire Business News

Warning over delaying end to lockdown

Delaying the end of lockdown would 'materially slow' the economic recovery, a leading business group warns.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) predicts that UK GDP will grow by 6.8% this year, the strongest surge since official records began in 1949.

But Suren Thiru, head of economics at BCC, said: "The squeeze on activity and the damage to confidence from a marked delay to the full lifting of restrictions or further restrictions to combat covid variants would materially slow the recovery."

The forecast suggests a "historically robust short-term outlook" for the economy.

Thiru added: "The UK economy is in a temporary sweet spot with the boost from the release of pent-up demand, if restrictions ease as planned, and ongoing government support expected to drive a substantial summer revival in economic activity, underpinned by the rapid vaccine rollout.

"Beyond the strong short-term outlook, notable economic scarring from the pandemic is projected to weigh on economic activity once government support winds down and drive an uneven recovery across different sectors and groups of people."

The UK economy shows a reliance on consumer expenditure to drive growth, with net trade projected to be a drag on the economy. Such economic imbalances leave the UK more exposed to future economic shocks like inflation.

If covid restrictions continue to be released, UK GDP growth will be strongest over Q2 2021 and Q3 2021, the report predicts. The UK economy is then expected to return to its pre-pandemic level in Q1 2022 with growth of 5.1% projected for next year.

Responding to the forecast, Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Director the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Historic levels of growth for this year are predicted, a testament to the flexibility and innovation shown by businesses and the resilience of consumers.

"These predictions rely upon the Government hitting its target date for the full re-opening of the economy. If there are bumps in the road, the government must be prepared to extend existing support until all sectors are able to fully trade again."

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