Anneliese Dodds has condemned the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and “Johnson’s jobs crisis” as data shows that the UK has officially entered a recession for the first time since the global financial crisis in 2008.
Figures published this morning show that UK GDP fell by 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020 – a larger drop than that of any other European country. France saw its economy shrink by 13.8%, Italy by 12.4% and Germany by 10.1%.
The Shadow Chancellor has said that although an economic downturn was inevitable, “Johnson’s jobs crisis wasn’t” and has called on the Prime Minister to take responsibility and “scrap the one-size-fits-all withdrawal of wage support”.
Commenting on the GDP figures, Dodds said: “We’ve already got the worst excess death rate in Europe – now we’re on course for the worst recession too. That’s a tragedy for the British people and it’s happened on Boris Johnson’s watch.
“The Prime Minister will say there’s only so much he could do during a global pandemic, but that doesn’t explain why our economy is tanking so badly compared to other countries.”
The data released today follows the publication of the Office of National Statistics’ labour market overview on Tuesday, which showed that the number of people in work between April and June fell by the largest amount in over a decade.
Dodds added: “It was his government that snatched away wage support for businesses that hadn’t even reopened yet. And his government that failed to get test, trace and isolate working despite claiming it’s a ‘world-beating’ system.
“A downturn was inevitable after lockdown – but Johnson’s jobs crisis wasn’t. Now he must take responsibility, scrap the one-size-fits-all withdrawal of wage support and bring the health crisis properly under control.”
The ONS has reported that the country’s recession is the deepest decline of any G7 nation in the second quarter and represents a fall double that of the US economy, which shrank by 10.6% over the same period.
Commenting on the figures and jobs in the pandemic, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The best way to get our economy back on its feet is to keep people in work. The more jobs we protect the faster we’ll recover from this crisis.
“Ministers cannot afford to dither. They must do everything possible to stop mass unemployment. That means extending the job retention scheme for companies that have a viable future but need support beyond October.
“And it means investing in the decent jobs we need for the future in green industries, social care and across the public sector.”
After a decline of 2.2% in the first quarter of this year, these latest figures confirm that the UK is in recession. The most recent 20.4% drop in GDP is the biggest quarterly decline since comparable records began in 1955.
Labour has repeatedly demanded that the government change course on its approach to economic support in the crisis, and Dodds has called on the Chancellor to bring forward targeted support for the industries where it’s most needed.