The extent of last year’s recession – the largest in over 300 years – means it will take longer for the UK to return to pre-crisis production levels than it does in the US , in Germany or in Japan. But this is clearly a very quick rebound.
Yet, over the past week, a return to normal life has become far from certain. And if our exit from lockdown is seriously delayed, if not reversed, this British boom will, once again, return to bursting.
Let us remain optimistic. Despite new variants, the increase in the number of cases is not causing a peak in deaths, a link broken by Covid vaccines. And I would say that the Prime Minister’s mind, undoubtedly impacted by his own experience, is starting to change.
Mainstream broadcasters are starting to focus on the record 5 million now on NHS waiting lists, 3 million fewer cancer screenings in the past year and 300,000 fewer referrals for cancer treatment . Arguments about the crippling costs of foreclosure – not just in terms of economics – are emerging. The impact of confinement on mental health – including suicides and self-harm – is finally recognized.
I hope Boris Johnson will soon reject the views of ‘doom boffins’ – Sage scientists have determined that the lockdown continues – instead favoring other scientists, as well as economists and business leaders. and community who say enough is enough.
But even though June 21 warrants a midsummer celebration, restrictions are relaxed and the economy continues to thrive, the UK still faces a tough economic future. In March and April, the number of workers on leave fell by 1.3 million, according to the latest data. As hiring has ramped up, total leave has dropped from 9m at the height of the pandemic to 3.4m now.
However, this still represents more than a tenth of the workforce. And many of those workers on leave will not have jobs when this ruinous and expensive assistance program finally comes to an end. Even if the UK economy after the lockdown continues to thrive, there will be an urgent need for vocational training and other measures to prevent a permanent increase in long-term unemployment.
And then, of course, there’s inflation – which keeps rising sharply. These latest PMI surveys reveal the biggest price hikes for service companies – driven by higher personnel costs, freight bills and raw material prices.