On the positive side, the latest figures show the economy is a hair’s breadth away from its pre-Covid position, just 0.5% below February 2020 levels. The new restrictions announced so far remain relatively light, while it is hoped that more stringent measures may not be necessary, thanks to the continued progress of the vaccine booster program.
However, the pressure is clearly mounting on an economy that was already struggling to regain its momentum before the emergence of the new variant, as uncertainty grows about the next stage in a pandemic that is far from over. .
Faced with these risks, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he had always recognized that there would be “bumps in the road” to recovery, but the government had already put in place a “plan for continued economic support. of £ 400 billion ”to keep the country on track.
It’s a strange way to describe a program that has largely been dismantled over the past few months, apparently because Sunak believed a return to economic normality was on the cards. The leave scheme disappeared, universal credit was reduced and several tax breaks were canceled.
Business leaders are stepping up their warnings that the absence of new support measures could squander the progress made in the economy since the lockdown eased earlier this year; especially in sectors most exposed to the Omicron wave, such as hotels, travel and leisure.