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Coronavirus: UK economic hit worst than first thought

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There was a sharp fall in consumer spending at the end of March, the ONS said

The UK economy shrank more than first thought between January and March, contracting 2.2% in the joint largest fall since 1979, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revised down its initial estimate of a 2% contraction, with all the main economic sectors dropping.

There was a significant economic impact in March, as the coronavirus pandemic began to have an effect.

The data comes as the prime minister is set for a major speech on the economy.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: “Our more detailed picture of the economy in the first quarter showed GDP shrank a little more than first estimated.

“Information from government showed health activities declined more than we previously showed.

“All main sectors of the economy shrank significantly in March as the effects of the pandemic hit.”

The first-quarter contraction is now the joint biggest drop since the July-to-September period in 1979.

Mr Athow said: “The sharp fall in consumer spending at the end of March led to a notable increase in households’ savings.”

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