UK economic growth slowed sharply in October as restrictions were tightened to control the spread of a relentless second wave of Covid-19, official figures show.
The UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.4 per cent month-on-month in October, marking the sixth month in a row of recovering output from the nadir of the recession in April.
But growth pared back significantly from 1.1 per cent in September as new restrictions were brought in to try to curb rising cases of coronavirus, hitting pubs and restaurants hard.
The ONS added that the British economy still remains 7.9 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.
Experts are predicting GDP will slam back into reverse in November and the final quarter of 2020 due to the second national lockdown in England.
UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “I know people are worried about the winter months, but we will continue to support people through our Plan For Jobs to ensure nobody is left without hope or opportunity.”
The figures show that the services sector was the hardest hit in October, with growth almost grinding to a halt – at 0.2 per cent against 1 per cent in September as pubs and restaurants were hit by the 10pm curfew and tighter restrictions.
But the British manufacturing and construction sectors proved more resilient in October, growing 1.7 per cent and 1 per cent respectively, as they were largely spared from the tighter restrictions.
Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: “The UK economy has now grown for six months running but still remains around 8% below its pre-pandemic peak.
“Public services output increased, while car manufacturing continued to recover and retail again grew strongly.
“However, the reintroduction of some restrictions saw services growth hit, with large falls in hospitality, meaning the economy overall grew only modestly.”
The data shows that compared with a year earlier, GDP fell 8.2 per cent in October and over the three months to October, growth slowed to 10.2 per cent from 15.5 per cent between July and September.
The ONS said the six-month rebound since the record 19.5 per cent fall in April means the UK economy has recovered by 23.4 per cent.
But GDP has still not fully made up the mammoth 25.3 per cent fall across the first and second quarters of 2020.
We’ve released GDP figures for October 2020.
▪️ GDP grew 0.4% in October but is 7.9% below its pre-pandemic peak
▪️ Services grew 0.2% (8.6% below Feb)
▪️ Manufacturing grew 1.7% (6.6% below Feb)
▪️ Construction grew 1.0% (6.4% below Feb)
➡️ https://t.co/OKSTHC8HDM pic.twitter.com/ml6GqluRdF
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) December 10, 2020
The outlook is gloomy for November as the one-month lockdown across England saw non-essential shops shut and pubs, cafes and restaurants forced to close except for takeaways.