LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is seeking to avoid a full national lockdown to prevent unemployment soaring into the millions, Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Thursday.
“I’ve not seen any projections of 4 million but certainly we know that there are some 700,000 extra people that are already unemployed as a result of this, and yes you know the projections are, that there are going to be economic impacts,” Eustice told Sky.
“It’s for precisely that reason that we are trying to avoid full lockdown,” he said.
Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility forecast in July that unemployment would peak at 11.9% in the final quarter of 2020 under its central economic scenario, equivalent to just over 4 million people, before averaging 3.5 million in 2021.
In a more negative scenario, unemployment would average 4 million through 2021.
The Bank of England has forecast that unemployment will rise to around 2.5 million by the end of this year.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, David Milliken and Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton)