Jeremy Hunt surprisingly claimed the UK economy’s outlook is “brighter than expected” – even though we just heard that it didn’t grow at all in February.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) just revealed that the UK had no month-on-month growth in its gross domestic product (GDP) in February.
It comes after the UK breathed a sigh of relief when GDP grew – ever so slightly – in January by 0.4%, as it meant we had just dodged a recession.
A recession is when there are two consecutive quarters of declining GDP.
Taking the full quarter into account, that means in the three months to February the UK’s GDP grew by just 0.1%.
ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said that the recent numbers came down to a small boom in construction, repair work, and retail.
These successes were then offset by the strikes from civil servants and teachers along with the unseasonably mild weather which led to falls in the use of electricity and gas.
Despite these bleak numbers though, Hunt seemed surprisingly optimistic.
He said: “The economic outlook is looking brighter than expected – GDP grew in three months to February and we are set to avoid recession thanks to the steps we have taken through a massive package of cost of living support for families and radical reforms to boost the jobs market and business investment.”
But people were quick to ask: Since when has 0.0% growth been a good thing?
Former chancellor and current PM Rishi Sunak was also ridiculed in the process, with people mocking his seemingly relaxed attitude towards to flatlining economy.
People also couldn’t help pointing out the reality of living in the UK right now.
The cost of living crisis is squeezing wallets from every side, with inflation in double digits, led by soaring grocery bills and energy prices, and climbing interest rates.
Of course, this is not the first time the UK has faced a bleak economic forecast.
Only earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast that the UK would have the worst performance in 2023 out of all G7 countries, shrinking by 0.3% across the whole year.
That is still a smaller amount than the IMF previously predicted – but Twitter wasted no time in pointing out that this not something experienced by most EU states right now. And while Germany’s economy is set to shrink too, it’s by a significantly smaller margin of 0.1%.