UK economic growth slows sharply in October as restrictions bite

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 Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.4% 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% 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 economy still remains 7.9% 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.

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% against 1% in September as pubs and restaurants were hit by the 10pm curfew and 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.”

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