UK GDP suffers 'largest quarterly fall since 1979' in first three months of 2020

30 June 2020, 07:18

The UK has seen the joint largest fall to GDP since 1979
The UK has seen the joint largest fall to GDP since 1979. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

New figures show the UK's economy saw the joint largest fall since 1979 at the start of the year according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The official stats watchdog confirmed the worst slump for the UK economy since 2008 which was before the full impact of the coronavirus lockdown hit the country.

The OSN said UK GDP contracted by 2.2 per cent between January and the end of March 2020.

The final tally was worse than an earlier estimate, published in May, that said GDP contracted by 2 per cent. The 2 per cent fall already marked the sharpest quarterly contraction since the 2008 financial crisis.

But with the Covid-19 lockdown only coming into force on March 23, the second quarter will show the full hit on the economy after the UK ground to a standstill.

Recent ONS figures showed the economy plummeted by 20.4% in April - the largest drop in a single month since records began.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: "Our more detailed picture of the economy in the first quarter showed GDP shrank a little more than first estimated.

"This is now the largest quarterly fall since 1979.

"Information from Government showed health activities declined more than we previously showed.

"All main sectors of the economy shrank significantly in March as the effects of the pandemic hit.

"The sharp fall in consumer spending at the end of March led to a notable increase in households' savings."

Household consumption declined by 2.9 per cent in the first quarter, revised downwards by 1.2 percentage points from the first quarterly estimate.

Economists are braced for what is likely to be an even worse second quarter.

The Prime Minister is set to lay out his plans for a “New Deal”-style infrastructure investment plan aimed at kickstarting the economic recovery from the pandemic.

“We will build, build, build,” the Boris Johnson is expected to say in a speech in the West Midlands. “Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires.”