Scale of economic challenge highlighted

Gradual recovery from COVID-19 crisis expected.

Scotland’s economy faces a gradual recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, according to updated modelling published today.

Highlighting the scale of the challenge facing the nation, analysis by Scottish Government Chief Economist Gary Gillespie suggests that economic output may not recover to pre-crisis levels until the start of 2023.

However, the report also highlights how Government support has helped to mitigate the worst economic effects of the virus.

It sets out that:

  • economic activity in April fell to historic lows as businesses were required to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • activity is expected to pick up in the coming months as businesses prepare for the gradual reopening of the economy. However, significant uncertainty in the economic outlook remains
  • unemployment is rising from its pre-COVID-19 lows and could increase to more than 10% this year, although the Job Retention Scheme is helping to contain this

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“These figures show in stark terms the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am aware that many people will be deeply concerned about their livelihoods as we start to emerge from lockdown, and the Scottish Government has been working tirelessly to keep businesses afloat and ensure as few people as possible lose their jobs.

“We have offered more than £2.3 billion to businesses to support them through this crisis, with £104 million having been awarded from the Scottish Government Business Support Fund alone, helping more than 2,500 businesses and 4,160 self-employed people in the space of just a month.

“It is critical that we now gradually reopen the economy, following the routemap out of lockdown that we have drawn up in close consultation with business organisations, trades unions and regulators. During this critical phase we will continue to work with employers so that they can safely get back to work and help the economy on its path to recovery.

“Given the scale of the challenge being faced by the Scottish economy in dealing with this crisis, the last thing our businesses need is the further economic turmoil that would occur under a no-deal Brexit. That is why we have repeated our calls for the UK Government to agree an extension to the transition period.”


The Monthly Economic Brief, published by the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser, provides an update on the latest impacts that COVID-19 is having on Scotland’s economy.


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