UK’s economy in March grows at fastest monthly gain since last August
The UK economy grew 2.1% in March, its fastest monthly increase since last August
The UK economy picked up pace in March as lockdown restrictions started to ease, according to official figures.
It comes as the economy was down by 1.5% in the first three months of 2021, as the nation faced its third lockdown, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Economy picks up
The reopening of schools and increase in retail spending helped the economy grow 2.1% in March, its fastest monthly growth since last August.
But the economy is still 8.7% smaller than it was before the pandemic.
Finance Minister Rishi Sunak told the BBC the economy was “getting back on track”.
“Despite a difficult start to this year, economic growth in March is a promising sign of things to come,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Bank of England said it expected the UK economy to enjoy a growth of 7.25% this year, its highest in more than 70 years, as restrictions are lifted and more people are vaccinated under Europe’s fastest vaccination programme.
Still slowest amidst G7
But Pantheon Macroeconomics economist Samuel Tombs said that the UK's economic growth was still the slowest of the Group of Seven (G7) rich countries, for the fourth quarter in a row.
Tombs said GDP looked on course to grow by 5% between April and June, "which should mean that the UK finally hands over the wooden spoon to another G7 economy".
The Bank of England expects the UK’s economy will be back to its pre-pandemic size by the end of this year.
Further reopening of economy
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the go-ahead for non-essential shops and outdoor hospitality to reopen in April in England and there have been signs that the economy grew in response.
Further relaxations are due to take place on 17 May, before all remaining restrictions are lifted in late June.
The ONS data showed Britain’s dominant services industry grew by 1.9% in March from February, its strongest growth since last August.