Growth in the UK shows a faster recovery after the pandemic

Written by David Milliken and Andy Bruce

LONDON, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Britain’s economic performance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been stronger than previously thought, with faster growth than Germany or France, according to revisions to official data published on Friday.

The UK economy in the second quarter of 2023 was 1.8% larger than it was in the fourth quarter of 2019, the last full quarter before the Covid-19 pandemic began, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This represents an upward revision to the Office for National Statistics’ most recent previous estimate, on August 11, that the economy was still 0.2% smaller than before the pandemic, which put it at the bottom of the table among major advanced economies.

An increase in the estimate of the size of the British economy was expected, after the Office for National Statistics published preliminary reviews on September 1 that indicated that the economy was already 0.6% larger than its pre-pandemic size in the last quarter of 2021.

The UK’s relative economic development since the pandemic and its exit from the European Union has been the focus of political debate, especially with the prospect of a national election next year.

Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said: “We know that the UK economy has recovered from the pandemic faster than previously thought, and the data published today once again proves the doubters wrong.”

Britain’s growth, which reached 1.8% during this period, exceeds the growth of France, 1.7%, and Germany, 0.2%, but it lags far behind the growth of the United States (6.1%), and is also weaker than the growth of Japan, Italy, or Canada.

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Recent growth has been weak compared to historical levels, and many households have been severely affected by escalating costs of living, which accelerated after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“The data (…) does not change the overall picture that the economy has lagged behind all other G7 countries, except Germany and France, since the pandemic. And that is before we feel all the impact from higher interest rates,” said Ruth Gregory, the UK’s deputy chief economist. In Capital Economics: “Interest Rates.”

The Bank of England raised interest rates 14 times since December 2021 to limit rising inflation, before unexpectedly keeping them unchanged last week at a 15-year high of 5.25%.

(Reporting by David Milliken and Andy Bruce; Editing in Spanish by Benjamin Mejias Valencia)

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