UK economy shrank by 2.6% in November

The UK economy shrank by 2.6% in November as fresh lockdown restrictions in England reduced economic activity, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it meant gross domestic product was 8.5% below its pre-pandemic peak.

This decline means the UK’s six-month run of growth since the first lockdown ended has now halted, and could be the first step towards a double-dip recession.

The services sector was hit hard, although some manufacturing and construction activity improved.

The closure of businesses such as pubs, hairdressers and many shops meant the sector contracted by 3.4%. The services sector is now 9.9% below the level of February 2020, the ONS said.

GDP fell by 8.9% in the 12 months to November 2020, compared with an annual decline of 6.8% to October, the ONS adds.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the figures showed “it’s clear things will get harder before they get better and today’s figures highlight the scale of the challenge we face”.

However, he said the vaccine roll-out and economic support measures meant there were reasons to be hopeful. “With this support, and the resilience and enterprise of the British people, we will get through this,” Mr Sunak said.

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