RISHI Sunak issued his own version of the three Rs tonight as he urged Brits to “rally round and fire up” the nation.
The Chancellor said now is the time to: RELIGHT the economy, RETURN to work and RE-OPEN schools.
He spoke out as hopes grew of a swift recovery from the worst ever recession, caused by coronavirus.
Mr Sunak’s call to arms came as new statistics gave early signs of a bounce-back from the economic shutdown.
The country is now officially in recession following two consecutive quarters of economic decline.
But June showed signs of recovery — after a dire April and May.
Official figures released today revealed the economy grew by 8.7 per cent in June — marking the start of a possible V-shaped return to prosperity.
But overall the economy is 17.4 per cent smaller than it was before the crisis started in February.
‘HARD TIMES ARE HERE’
However, economists remain positive that the nation can grow again if it gets back to work soon.
Mr Sunak said: “The figures confirm we’re in an acute recession and the hard times are here. But in amongst the gloom there are some glimmers of growth.
“Now is the time for everyone to rally round and really fire up the economy together.
“Whether it’s going back to school or work in the office again, going to your local restaurant or pub for a meal or visiting your local shops for a bit of retail therapy, if we all play our part we can relight our economic firepower together.
“I know that businesses around the country have taken extraordinary steps to make sure everyone can do so confidently and safely.”
The Tory big gun added: “This country has faced adversity before and come out stronger and I believe this time will be no different.”
Mr Sunak said people should “safely” head back to work, shops and restaurants.
He added: “As people get back to going shopping or going out for a meal or indeed getting back to their office they will see that it’s a new normal . . . a safe normal.
“We have made changes, guidance is there to ensure that safety, and they shouldn’t be too nervous about the virus.”
The Chancellor said the economy was better protected by “a new safer environment”.
And he stressed: “We want to try and protect as many jobs as possible. That comes from as much of our economy returning to normal as possible.”
Top economists welcomed the growth in June, which is likely to have continued in July and August.
Julian Jessop, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “The real news is not that the UK fell into recession in the second quarter of the year. That much we knew.
“Instead, it is that the recovery that began in May accelerated in June as lockdown began to be lifted.
“Of course, there is still a long way to go before these green shoots return the economy to where it was before the pandemic struck. But mighty oaks grow from little acorns.”
He added: “People now need to be encouraged to come off furlough and get back to work as soon as possible — whether this is for their existing employer or for another business that is better able to cope with the ‘new normal’, whatever that may prove to be.”
Jonathan Athow, of the Office for National Statistics, said: “The economy began to bounce back in June, with shops reopening, factories beginning to ramp up production and house-building continuing to recover.
“Despite this, GDP in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.”
Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds accused the Government of mishandling the crisis as figures suggested the largest crash in Europe and the G7 group of nations.
She said: “We’ve already got the worst excess death rate in Europe — now we’re on course for the worst recession too.”
But last month she admitted the UK had a “service heavy” economy and was likely to be hit harder from lockdown than other nations.
A government source accused the Labour chiefs of “playing politics”.
FAMILIES WORSE OFF
British families are each £3,200 worse off after the Covid-19 lockdown, new figures show.
The Resolution Foundation, the think tank that focuses on living standards, calculated the wealth hit per family so far.
Today, official figures confirmed that the economy shrank by an unprecedented 20.4 per cent in the second quarter.
This was as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) or output.
GDP is often used to represent a country’s wealth.
The massive hit to output in the three months to June was £112billion — or roughly £3,200 per family.
The Federation of Small Businesses is calling for a cut to NI contributions, a revamp of business rates and the “most pro-business Budget ever” in the autumn.
The Institute of Economic Affairs believes the key to a strong recovery will be the continued lifting of the lockdown — particularly the reopening of schools.
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