The UK's GDP figures are proof there is no trade-off between lives and growth | Jonathan Portes

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The dire economic stats reflect a perception that the government’s Covid strategy is at best confused and at worst chaotic

Predicting the economy by looking at economic statistics has often been compared to steering a car using the rear-view mirror. Tricky enough at the best of times, but in current circumstances it’s as if we’re putting our feet down on both the brakes and the accelerator while peering backwards into dense fog.

So what does a quick glance at the speedometer – today’s GDP figures – tell us? Mostly, they confirm what we already know. The impact of the pandemic and the associated health-related restrictions, both government-mandated and self-imposed, was the steepest and largest fall in output on record, about 20%. As restrictions eased, there was some recovery in June, with growth of about 9%. But the economy is still 17% smaller than it was in February.

Related: Axing older workers won’t save young people from the Covid dole queue | Dorothy Byrne

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