Support our Nation today - please donate here

UK economy declines by more than expected in July amid strike impact

13 Sep 2023 3 minute read
The retail sector suffered in July because of bad weather. Photo by zoetnet is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The UK economy shrank surprisingly sharply in July as the health sector was impacted by further industrial action and retailers were knocked by wet weather.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 0.5% in July.

It is the heaviest decline since December last year and comes amid concerns recent interest hikes and persistent inflation could stifle economic growth.

Economists had forecast a 0.2% decline for the month.

It came after a 0.5% monthly increase in June.

ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “Our initial estimate for July shows that GDP fell; however, the broader picture looks more positive, with the economy growing across the services, production and construction sectors in the last three months.

“In July, industrial action by healthcare workers and teachers negatively impacted services, and it was a weaker month for construction and retail due to the poor weather.

“Manufacturing also fell back following its rebound from the effect of May’s extra bank holiday.”

The ONS said all three key areas of the economy – services, construction and production – declined in July.


Lower activity in the services sector was the biggest driver of the latest monthly slump, according to the statistics body.

It said the human health and social work activities sector recorded a 2.1% contraction for the month as a result of industrial action from NHS senior doctors and radiographers, as well an increase in strike days from junior doctors.

The education sector also recorded a 1.1% fall for the month, as the sector was impacted by two days of strikes.

Elsewhere, the retail and accommodation sectors also dipped as consumer sentiment was held back by poor weather.

However, the arts and entertainment industry had a stronger month because of a busy schedule of sporting events and “increased theme park visits”.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “Only by halving inflation can we deliver the sustainable growth and pay rises that the country needs.

“But there are many reasons to be confident about the future.

“We were among the fastest in the G7 to recover from the pandemic and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) have said we will grow faster than Germany, France and Italy in the long term.”

Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “Today is another dismal day for growth, and the British economy remains hostage to the Conservatives’ low growth trap that is leaving working people worse off.

“After thirteen years of instability, the Conservatives have left the British economy weaker and families having to cope with higher taxes, higher mortgages and higher food and energy bills.”

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.