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See how UK economy grew at fastest level since last July in April

You will agree with me that the easing of coronavirus restrictions saw the UK economy grow at the fastest level since July 2020 in April, but it still remains below pre-pandemic levels, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the size of the economy – rose 2.3% driven by a 3.4% rise in the services sector as restaurants, pubs and non-essential retailers welcomed customers back. It was tempered by a fall in construction, the ONS added.

Commenting on the latest GDP figures for April, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Today’s figures are a promising sign that our economy is beginning to recover.

“With more than a million people coming off furlough across March and April and the number of employees in work rising, it is clear that our Plan for Jobs is working.

“But I know there are people who still need our support, which is why the furlough scheme is in place until September to protect as many jobs as possible, and schemes like Kickstart will continue to create jobs for young people, as we look to build the economy of the future.”

The rise was driven by the services sector as restaurants, pubs and non-essential retailers welcomed customers back

The UK imported more goods from outside the EU in April than at any point since 1997, but exports from the country fell.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that total exports, excluding precious metals, fell by 0.6% in April following two months of growth.

Exports to non-EU countries fell, offsetting a rise in exports to EU countries.

Total imports rose by 3.9% as the UK bought more oil and non-ferrous metals from outside the EU and more manufactured goods from the bloc.

Hinesh Patel, portfolio manager at Quilter Investors, said: “Consumers are clearly making up for lost time and the government will be hoping they continue to spend the lockdown savings many have been fortunate to accumulate.

“Real-time data, such as restaurant and holiday bookings, also remains robust after the initial surge in April and we are seeing discretionary spending hold up as things look to get back to normal.

“here is obviously uncertainty about the last step of easing going ahead on time and Sunak will not want any delay to be long lasting. But, given the depths of where we were last year, the economy is clearly returning to health. The removal of social distancing when the time comes will give an additional turbo charge to the economy.

“But the point will come where the spending taps will need to be switched off the economy stand on its own two feet again. When this is remains to be seen but for now the sun is shining and the roof is being fixed.”

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