Chancellor Rishi Sunak attacked as expert claims ‘COVID is not to blame for the recession’

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On Wednesday the Chancellor warned “hard times are here” as the UK economy crumbled into the worst ever recession. The economy shrunk by a record 20.4 percent in just three months.

Mr Sunak said: “I’ve said before that hard times were ahead, and today’s figures confirm that hard times are here.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months many more will.

“But while there are difficult choices to be made ahead, we will get through this, and I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity.”

His comments came after ONS data showed around 730,000 UK workers have been removed from the payrolls of British companies since March when the coronavirus lockdown began.

This marks the first time in 11 years the UK has entered into a recession.

The latest GDP figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this morning showed that GDP fell by 20.4 per cent between April to June.

But an expert has lashed out at Mr Sunak, claiming the pandemic did not cause the recession.

Richard Skellett, of charity Digital Anthropology, told Express.co.uk: “COVID is not to blame for the recession. I was calling out a recession based on the 2019 numbers months ago.

“There were more profit warnings in the last quarter of 2019 than at the height of the banking crash.

“A very simple grasp of politics, economics, social issues and tax is all that’s needed.

“One predicts the future from historical patterns and they were visible for all to see.”

Mr Sunak has been widely praised for introducing the furlough scheme for people unable to go to work due to lockdown but the scheme is set to come to an end.

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And Mr Skellett agrees the scheme should not be extended despite thousands of people still unable to go back to work in sectors such as theatre.

He said: “Furlough absolutely should not be extended and is just delaying the pain.

“The biggest issue we have going forward is uncertainty.

“Furlough is not an answer to uncertainty and does not solve the problem at root cause.

“Individuals and organisations need to focus on root cause solutions in the future of work and future of business area.”

Mr Skellett went on to argue the government and organisations need to change operating models and said high earning jobs will never be created at the same rate in past years.

He continued: “Those days are gone and will never return.

“The jobs we create now are physical low-level jobs in logistics as an example.

“Even then it’s not a proper job; Hermes want 9,500 self-employed people and not employees.

“The jobs that we used to create in law, finance and those other knowledge roles are diminishing and being moved out of the UK or being replaced by automation.

“It’s very sad to see the Great in Britain moving to Below Average Britain.”

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