Economists have warned the fallout from lockdown is likely to be worse than earlier government predictions made ahead of Wednesday’s budget . Britain’s GDP is expected to fall 4pc in the first quarter of the year, according to EY’s Item Club, nearly six percentage points lower than November’s predictions. Those forecasts, made by the Office for Budget Responsibility before the emergence of the new Kent variant of coronavirus led to hundreds of thousands of cases and tens of thousands of deaths, predicted the economy would grow by 1.9pc. […] The Chancellor is expected to use Wednesday’s budget to announce a £5bn fund to boost high street shops, pubs and restaurants that have remained closed due to lockdown. […] While the vaccine rollout is expected to boost growth in the second half of the year, EY still expected overall growth in 2021 to be down on earlier predictions: 5pc against official predictions of 5.5pc.
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