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Wales’ economy grew at the fastest pace of Britain’s nations in 2021, despite concerns from some that tighter Covid restrictions would hit businesses.
National and regional data from the ONS released 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 rose 3.1% last quarter, more than double the national rate of 1.3%. Wales recorded growth of 1.6% in the same quarter, the second highest in the UK along with Scotland.
Wales’ Covid restrictions were seen as tougher than England’s in 2021 and Welsh Tories expressed concern that some measures would be ‘disastrous’ for 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 businesses described as a ‘hammer blow’ to business by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies.
Prime Minister Mark Drakeford has also been accused of keeping stricter restrictions in place than those in place in England during the outbreak of the omicron variant later in 2021, with a warning that this would have a negative effect on the ‘hospitality.
In response, the Prime Minister said he had “absolutely nothing to apologize for”.
Figures from the ONS suggest that the bulk of Wales’ growth occurred in the second quarter of 2021, as the country emerged from the lockdown imposed over the winter. Wales’ GDP grew by 7.5% during this period, compared to 5.4% for England.
“Five UK regions and countries recorded growth in the fourth quarter of 2021 above the UK level compared to the same quarter in 2020,” the ONS said.
“It was 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 recorded growth below the UK growth of 6.6%. The furthest below the UK level was the South East with 2.3%.
“In the fourth quarter of 2021, compared to the same quarter a year ago, Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland all posted positive GDP growth of 8.2%, 7 .7%, 6.7% and 5.8%, respectively.”
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. economy Wales increased pace fast UK despite fears strict restrictions Covid be disastrous