The statement made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in the House of Commons on 13 June 2022.
Like other advanced economies, the UK is affected by global economic challenges, including the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. As the Chancellor said a few weeks ago,
“A perfect storm of global supply shocks is rolling through our economy simultaneously.”
At the same time, the impact from the wind-down of the national covid testing scheme is dragging on UK GDP data. Overall, the figures for April, published by the Office for National Statistics this morning, show that output fell by 0.3% on the month, with the services sector falling by 0.2%, and production and construction declining by 0.6% and 0.4% respectively. As the ONS notes, the fall in GDP on the month is driven by the impact of the wind-down of the NHS covid testing programme. Testing volumes fell by 70% from March to April, which, alongside the impact from vaccines, detracted 0.5 percentage points from GDP growth in April. Looking through the impact of falling tests, we see that the rest of the economy actually grew by 0.1%. Importantly, GDP is still 0.9% above pre-pandemic levels, and support provided over the past two years has put the UK economy in a good position to deal with any economic headwinds, with record numbers of employees on payrolls and a strong economic recovery from the pandemic.
As the Chancellor has also said:
“The next few months will be tough. But where we can act, we will.”
The Government are taking significant action to support households this year, having announced an additional £15 billion of further support for households just over a fortnight ago, on top of the £22 billion announced at the spring statement. In the longer term, the Chancellor has set out his vision for a lower tax, higher growth, higher productivity economy based on the three pillars of capital, people and ideas. The plan for growth and the tax plan represent an ambitious strategy for boosting growth and productivity in the years ahead. The Government’s priority going forward is to put those into effect, including through significant investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation.
We will of course keep the data under close review, and that includes monitoring the economic impact of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, but our focus will continue to be on the best solution for all: a growing economy that supports high-wage, high-skilled jobs.