Wales’ economy grew at fastest rate in the UK in 2021 despite concerns stricter Covid restrictions would be ‘disastrous’
Wales’ economy grew at the fastest rate of the UK nations in 2021, despite concerns by some that stricter Covid restrictions would hit businesses.
ONS national and regional data published today showed that in 2021 Wales’ GDP grew by 8.2% while England’s grew by 6.7%.
England’s increase was mainly driven by London which grew 3.1% in the final quarter, more than twice the national rate of 1.3 per cent. Wales saw growth of 1.6% during the same quarter, the joint second highest in the UK along with Scotland.
Wales’ Covid restrictions were considered to be stricter than England’s in 2021 and the Welsh Conservatives expressed concern that some measures would be “disastrous” to the economy.
A ‘stay local’ rule was in place between the end of 2020 and the end of March 2021, with a decision to close non-essential retail described as a “hammer blow” to businesses by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies.
First Minister Mark Drakeford was also accused of keeping tighter restrictions in place than were in force in England during the outbreak of the omicron variant later in 2021, with a warning that it would have a negative effect on hospitality.
In response, the First Minister said he had “absolutely nothing to apologise for.”
The ONS’ figures suggested that the bulk of Wales’ growth had happened in the second quarter of 2021 as the country came out of the lockdown imposed over winter. Wales’ GDP grew 7.5% during that period, compared with England’s 5.4%.
“Five regions and countries of the UK had growth in Quarter 4 2021 above the UK level when compared with the same quarter in 2020,” the ONS said.
“These were London at 10.4%, the North West at 8.3%, Wales at 8.2%, Scotland at 7.7% and the North East at 7.5%. All other regions grew below the UK growth of 6.6%. The furthest below the UK level was the South East with 2.3%.
“In Quarter 4 2021, compared with the same quarter a year ago, Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland all showed positive growth in GDP of 8.2%, 7.7%, 6.7% and 5.8%, respectively.”
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