IMF Economic Outlook - Commons Urgent Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:10 pm on 31st January 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Penn Baroness Penn The Parliamentary Secretary, HM Treasury 4:10 pm, 31st January 2023

I must correct the noble Lord on the cause of the disappointing figures for growth this year that we have seen. The IMF emphasises that Russia’s war in Ukraine continues to weigh on economic activity, and the UK’s relatively high dependence on natural gas and, simultaneously, a near-record tightness in our labour market are dampening our outlook.

The noble Lord asked why the UK economy had not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. If we exclude the public sector, the private sector has recovered to above its pre-pandemic level and is in line with other major European economies. There is a difference in the way that the UK estimates its public sector output compared to many other countries, and the ONS has said that international comparisons are difficult to make.

On the point about the optimism that my honourable friend expressed about the UK economy, the Government make no apologies for pointing out our underlying strengths. Last year’s growth rate was uprated by the IMF to one of the highest in Europe, and if we look over the cumulative period 2022 to 2024, growth is predicted to be higher than in Germany and Japan and similar to that of the US. That will happen if we stick to our plan for growth and tackle inflation.