UK facing recession on unprecedented scale as Chancellor warns of ‘more hardship to come’

Hours after the figures were published, Mr Sunak told the House of Lords economic affairs committee: “Although we’ve put unprecedented mitigating actions in place, I certainly won’t be able to protect every job and every business.

“We’re already seeing that in the data, and no doubt there will be more hardship to come. This lockdown is having a very significant impact on our economy. We are likely to face a severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen, and of course that will have an impact on employment.”

Mr Sunak said the “jury is out” on the degree of “long-term scarring”, or permanent economic damage, caused by the Government’s response to the virus crisis.

On Tuesday, the Treasury said more than £11.1 billion had been claimed so far through the coronavirus job retention scheme. 

More than one in three private sector workers are now having their wages paid by the state, with eight million people using the furlough scheme and two million self-employed receiving grants to cover lost income.

Asked how about what levels unemployment could reach in the fourth quarter of 2020, Mr Sunak said the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility have estimated a “double-digit percentage unemployment rate”.

Questioned about how quickly the UK might recover from the recession, he said: “It is not obvious that there will be an immediate bounce back.”

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