GDP: Lockdown easing gives boost to economy with 4.8% growth from April to June

ITV News Economics Editor Joel Hills reports on the GDP bounce

GDP went up up 4.8% from April to June this year, as the country emerged from Covid-19 restrictions.

The easing of lockdown gave the economy a 1% boost in the month of June alone, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Outdoor dining opened again in April, and further restrictions were lifted in May.

'Strong economic growth'

The second quarter figures show the economy continuing to recover (increasing for the fifth month in a row) but still 2.2% below its pre-Covid level.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said Thursday's GDP figures showed the economy is "recovering very strongly", adding it was "evidence that our plan for jobs is working."

He admitted, however, "it will take us some time to full recover" with growth still 4.4% below pre-pandemic levels (recorded in the last three months of 2019).

Millions to lose government Covid support

Mr Sunak also ruled out an extension to furlough beyond September, along with any additional financial support for the struggling travel sector.“The most important thing is that we are now safely and slowly reopening travel,” he said.

He also defended the government's decision not to extend its £20 Universal Credit uplift. The benefit supports more than five million families in the UK.

'Today's figures show that the economy is recovering very strongly,' says Chancellor

"This extra temporary uplift has been in place for almost 18 months," Mr Sunak said.

"All the data shows that the most vulnerable in our society have been looked after through this crisis."

Despite the move to reduce Covid support, Mr Sunak added he was "mindful" of concerns about the cost of living and the impact of recent inflation.Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves said: "Businesses remain uncertain about debt, people are worried about rising inflation, the misjudged cut to Universal Credit is looming and the increasing cost of living is making it more difficult for families to get by.

"Our recovery should be built on secure, well paid jobs, thriving industries, strong public services, support for communities across the country and a sustainable future. The Conservatives have failed to make that happen."

Lockdown ending 'gave economy a boost'

In February, the Bank of England estimated it would take the economy 12 months to get back to where it was pre-Covid.

Commenting on Thursday's figures, Deputy National Statistician for Economic Statistics Jonathan Athow said the reopening of society gave the economy a boost.

"The UK economy has continued to rebound strongly, with hospitality benefiting from the first full month of indoor dining, while spending on advertising was boosted by the reopening of many services."

He continued: "Health services also showed growth, with many more people visiting their GP. However, GDP is still around two percentage points below its pre-pandemic peak."

Other contributors struggled, he added: "The often-erratic pharmaceutical industry saw a large monthly fall while oil and gas production again fell as North Sea maintenance continued.

"Energy usage also dropped as summer finally arrived across the UK.

"While goods imports from both EU and non-EU countries increased in June, total goods exports were down with car exports faltering due to previous months’ production problems."