Budget 2021: what’s really going on in the UK economy?

8 months ago 98

Britain’s economical betterment from Covid is astatine increasing hazard from terrible shortages of workers and materials, arsenic good arsenic mounting surviving costs for households, arsenic Rishi Sunak prepares his fund and spending review.

Here are 5 cardinal charts that volition underpin the chancellor’s connection connected Wednesday afternoon.

The UK economy

Real GDP chart

Britain’s system has recovered close to pre-pandemic levels aft a swift rebound from the worst recession successful 300 years, helped by vaccines and the easing of Covid restrictions. According to the latest authoritative figures, GDP is conscionable 0.8% beneath its February 2020 level. However, the severe shortages of workers and materials hazard weighing connected growth, putting a implicit betterment by Christmas astatine risk.

Attention volition absorption connected today’s Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts for the semipermanent economical “scarring” caused by Covid, estimated astatine astir 3% astatine its past update successful March. The Bank of England has suggested the interaction could beryllium little than feared, astatine astir 1%.

Combining the impacts of Covid and Brexit, a associated forecast from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Citi slope predicted GDP volition stay 2.5% smaller than would person different been the lawsuit by 2024-25.

The nationalist finances

Government borrowing chart

The government’s fund shortage – the spread betwixt spending and income – has improved from a grounds £355bn shortfall successful the twelvemonth to the extremity of March 2021, erstwhile it stood astatine the highest recorded successful peacetime.

After improvements, the IFS estimates that borrowing could travel successful astir £55bn little than forecast by the OBR successful March, astatine astir £180bn for the existent fiscal year.

Despite these gains, rising ostentation is pushing up the outgo of servicing the nationalist debt, successful a improvement that is causing interest for Sunak. Government indebtedness has risen from astir 80% of GDP earlier the pandemic adjacent to astir 96%, the highest level since the 1960s. Despite these increases, a radical of 70 starring economists said servicing costs stay astatine the lowest levels since the 1950s.

Levelling up spending

Spending chart

Sunak is expected to denote spending limits for Whitehall departments for the coming 3 years.

After a decennary of austerity nether the Conservatives, determination is unit connected the chancellor to boost the backing disposable to conscionable the government’s levelling up promises.

Under details announced astatine the motorboat of the spending reappraisal process past month, mean real-terms maturation successful spending is expected to emergence by 3.2% each twelvemonth betwixt 2021-22 and 2024-25, according to the IFS. This is beneath much generous settlements agreed nether Labour during the aboriginal 2000s, but overmuch higher than successful the 2010s erstwhile steep cuts were made.


Unemployment chart

Unemployment successful the UK has fallen steadily successful caller months, down from a highest of 5.1% precocious past twelvemonth to 4.5% successful the 3 months to August. Although higher than pre-Covid levels, erstwhile the jobless complaint stood astatine 4%, the result was acold amended than the 12% that had been feared.

However, the latest figures correspond a snapshot successful clip earlier the furlough strategy stopped astatine the extremity of September, erstwhile arsenic galore arsenic 1.4 cardinal radical were receiving wage enactment up until its closure. Early figures for redundancies from the Insolvency Service suggest occupation losses whitethorn person been limited, but galore economists suggest it is inactive excessively aboriginal to tell.

Sunak has taken comfortableness that record occupation vacancies of much than 1m could assistance support a lid connected unemployment, portion hoping that the extremity of the furlough strategy could payment firms struggling with terrible unit shortages.

Living costs

Inflation chart

Rising vigor bills person pushed up ostentation to the second-highest level successful a decennary implicit caller months, putting a choky compression connected household finances earlier a pugnacious winter. The user prices scale stood astatine 3.1% successful September, a flimsy driblet from a period earlier, contempt prices rising crossed a wide scope of goods and services.

The Bank of England’s main economist has warned ostentation could highest adjacent to 5% successful the coming months, with the barometer for the rising outgo of surviving forecast to stay elevated until the mediate of adjacent twelvemonth earlier gradually falling backmost towards the Bank’s 2% people rate.

Inflation is being pushed up by a surge successful planetary request for vigor and manufactured goods, arsenic good arsenic terrible disruption to planetary proviso chains caused by Covid-19, with added pressures from Brexit.