Long or short Covid? The true state of the UK economy

Ahead of Rishi Sunak’s potentially pivotal pandemic Budget, Ben Chu examines how bad things got for the British patient in 2020 – and the prognosis for recovery

Monday 01 March 2021 21:30 GMT
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The great fear is that the UK economy might experience the economic equivalent of long Covid
The great fear is that the UK economy might experience the economic equivalent of long Covid (Reuters)

Long Covid describes the symptoms of people who have been infected by the coronavirus, survived it, and yet who just can’t seem to return to normal health. There’s fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety – things aren’t right and it’s not clear why. The great fear is that the UK economy might experience something similarly unwelcome when this pandemic is otherwise over, that the shadow of this crisis will stretch out over the years to come.

With Boris Johnson having unveiled a conditional plan for releasing the UK economy from its latest national lockdown and with the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, preparing his 3 March Budget, now seems an appropriate time to take stock, not only of how bad things got for the British patient in 2020 but the prognosis for recovery.

Dubious comparisons

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