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What shape will the UK economic outlook take?

16 July: With policies changing rapidly, recovery uncertain and consumer confidence notoriously difficult to predict, join Professor Trevor Williams on 21 July with an update to the economic outlook for the next 12 months. Rachel Underhill, Senior Business Strategy Manager at ICAEW, reports.

Organisations of all sizes are telling ICAEW that forecasting is one of the single most difficult things to do at the moment.

When Professor Trevor Williams joined ICAEW for the first economic outlook webinar back in May, forecasts were varied from “v-shaped” through to “swoosh- shaped”. However, with GDP growth for May being confirmed at a below-expectations rise of 1.8%, having dropped by 10.8% in April, hopes of a “v-shaped” recovery are diminishing. A ‘U’ shaped recovery looks more likely. This week the OBR released three scenarios, all of which noted that this was the worst recession in 300 years.

With businesses trying to forecast what the next 12 months might look like, ICAEW is hosting another webinar to update the economic outlook Professor Williams gave eight weeks ago. He will look at the UK economy over the next six to 12 months, taking into consideration updated government policies and, of course, Brexit. You can register for the webinar by clicking here. We are allowing approximately half of the one-hour running time for Q&A, given the huge demand for questions at our last session.

Professor Williams will also examine the unwinding of furlough. Unemployment is forecast to top 3.5 million next year, with government policies underway to try and stem the impact of this on the younger population. Businesses are, however, reporting opportunities such as increased access to talent, with a reduction in barriers such as location from the work at home revolution for those that can do so. 

The recovery has been, and will continue to be, varied depending on sector. The winners and losers, as it were, will be dictated by their reliance and links to sectors that perform particularly well or badly. At a recent event, an ICAEW member in business told delegates that by honing your transferable skills and being able to move from sector to sector makes your employability more resilient.

This then comes down to the availability of jobs and the economic recovery is crucial for this. Whilst recovery in certain sectors may not pick up to 2019 levels for a number of years, there are others which are expected to outpace 2019 output sooner rather than later. Can these sectors pick up sufficiently to reduce the unemployment figures and lower GDP levels even slightly?

To register for the UK Economic outlook 2020-2021 webinar or for more details click here.

Trevor Williams is the former Chief Economist at Lloyds Banks. During his time there he established a highly-regarded, award-winning, team of economists analysing global and domestic data.

Trevor is a visiting Professor at the University of Derby, rotating Chairman of the Institute of Economic Affairs Shadow Monetary Policy Committee (SMPC) and is the author of Trading Economics: A Guide to Economic Statistics for Practitioners (with Victoria Turton).Trevor, a former Chief Economist for Lloyds Bank, now runs a consultancy specialising in economic analysis encompassing big data. His blogs can be found here.