Fiscal watchdog's economic slump report is 'not a forecast but a scenario and possibly not even the most likely one', says chancellor
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The UK Chancellor has challenged the view of the government’s own independent fiscal watchdog after it published a report stating the country’s economy could shrink by 35 per cent and leave two million people out of work.
Earlier, the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) warned that a three-month lockdown until June would result in an economic decline that would see unemployment rise by more than 2.4 million.
While it also said the economy would bounce back in the second half of the year Mr Sunak said: “It is important to be clear the OBR numbers are not a forecast or a prediction, they simply set out what one possible scenario might look like – and it may not even be the most likely scenario.
“There are three brief points I wanted to make: first the OBR’s figures suggest the scale of what we are facing will have serious implications for our economy here at home, in common with other countries around the world
The absolute priority must be to focus all of our resources not just of the state but of businesses and all of you at home as well, in a collective national effort to beat this virus.
“These are tough times and there will be more to come, as I've said before. We can't protect every business and every household but we came into this crisis with a fundamentally sound economy powered by the hard work and ingenuity of the British people and British businesses.
“So while those economic impacts are significant the OBR also expects them to be temporary, with a bounce back in growth.
“The second point I want to make is that we are not just going to stand by and let this happen. Our planned economic response is protecting millions of jobs, businesses, self-employed people, charities and households.
“Our response aims to directly support people and businesses while the restrictions are in place and to make sure that, as the restrictions are changed, we can as quickly as possible get people back to work, get businesses moving again and recover our economy.
“The OBR today have been clear that the policies we have set out will do that – the OBR today have been clear that if we had not taken the actions we have the situation would be much worse. In other words our plan is the right plan.
“The third point I want to make is that right now the single most important thing we can do for the health of our economy is to protect the health of our people – it is not a case of choosing between the economy and public health.
“Common sense tells us that doing so would be self-defeating at a time when we are seeing hundreds of people dying every day from this terrible disease. The absolute priority must be to focus all of our resources not just of the state but of businesses and all of you at home as well, in a collective national effort to beat this virus.”
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