After coronavirus, let’s choose carefully which sectors we want to regrow – and which to let go of

The pandemic has made clear what really matters to our economy. Let's restart it selectively, writes Alex King

Tuesday 21 April 2020 10:59

As the government announced that lockdown restrictions would continue for at least another three weeks, the Office of Budget Responsibility, the Treasury’s official forecaster, made a bleak prediction. It warned that GDP could fall by 35% in the coming months, the worst quarter for UK GDP on record, with unemployment rising by more than 2 million to 10%.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund estimated in its latest World Economic Outlook that 2020 would witness the worst global economic contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It said world output would decline by 3 per cent in 2020, 6.3 percentage points down from the January growth forecast of 3.3 per cent. With the collapse in demand for oil, the IMF’s forecast is proving accurate.

Yet in these uncommon times of decreased consumption, a common sense of what matters has emerged. In a YouGov poll published last Friday, 51 per cent of the 4,343 British adults surveyed said they had noticed cleaner air since the lockdown began, while 27 per cent said they had spotted more wildlife. Crucially, just 9 per cent said they wanted to return to life as normal after lockdown.

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