Anneliese Dodds has said the government must “get a grip of those issues that are driving economic decline” by making sure NHS test and trace is working effectively and stressed the need for a “longer-term horizon for economic support”.
In a Sky News interview this morning, the Shadow Chancellor described how new figures from the Office for National Statistics show the economy is “much smaller” as the organisation reported that GDP is 9.6% lower than this time last year.
Dodds explained: “We could be seeing a shift backwards because of the lockdown that is currently underway now for the last quarter. This really shows that government has got to get a grip of those issues that are driving economic decline.
“Particularly the public health crisis – get test, trace and isolate sorted out – but make sure we have a longer-term horizon for economic support. That would really help to bring more confidence.”
The ONS data shows that the UK economy grew by 15.5% between July and September as the country emerged from its first lockdown, but this has not made up for the growth lost over the course of the pandemic.
Deputy national statistician at the ONS Jonathan Athow said: “While all main sectors of the economy continued to recover, the rate of growth slowed again with the economy still remaining well below its pre-pandemic peak.
“The return of children to school boosted activity in the education sector. Housebuilding also continued to recover while business strengthened for lawyers and accountants after a poor August.
“However, pubs and restaurants saw less business after the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme ended, and accommodation saw less business after a successful summer.”
Labour welcomed the U-turn on extending furlough support, but criticised Rishi Sunak for the last-minute nature of the policy change, which the Chancellor and Prime Minister announced just hours before the scheme was due to end.
Dodds highlighted at the time that the late stage announcement meant workers had already been made redundant. She asked: “How many jobs could have been saved if this government had recognised reality and let businesses plan for the future?”
Keir Starmer argued during the latest Prime Minister Question’s session on Wednesday that the British people are “paying the price” for mistakes that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have made in their handling of the crisis.
Starmer said: “If they’d handed contracts to companies that could deliver, public money would have been saved. If they’d extended furlough sooner, jobs would have been saved. If they’d brought in a circuit breaker, lives would have been saved.”
After England entered its second national lockdown, following a U-turn from Boris Johnson on introducing the measure, Labour has urged the government to use the four-week period of restrictions to improve NHS test and trace.
The system was only able to reach 60.4% of coronavirus contacts in England in the last week up to lockdown. Experts have said 80% of close contacts must be reached if the contact tracing system is to be effective.
Official figures reported on Wednesday that the UK has now recorded 50,365 deaths linked to coronavirus. Other data reports over 70,000 excess deaths up to the end of October. The latest daily death toll was 595.
The latest government data showed 22,590 new cases. The total number of hospital admissions for the UK stands at 185,737 with a latest daily number of 1,518. There has been a significant increase recently with the second wave.