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Infections and deaths

Covid-19 positivity rates levelling off or decreasing in UK nations

20 November 2020

The number of people with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Scotland appears to be levelling off, with infection estimates decreasing in Wales and Northern Ireland in the most recent weeks.

Although the national figure for England has stayed at an estimated 664,700 infections, trends vary at a regional level.

In the week 8 to 14 November, the proportion of people testing positive continued to increase in London, the East of England and the South East, while rates decreased in the North West and the East Midlands.

The highest positivity rates are still in the North West and Yorkshire and The Humber.

Over the last week, positivity rates have continued to rise in London, East of England and the South East

Estimated percentage of the population testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) on nose and throat swabs, daily, by region since 4 October 2020, England

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The highest rates are seen among secondary school-aged children, and older teenagers and young adults; however trends vary between these groups. Positivity rates continue to increase in primary school-aged children, while rates appear to be levelling off in people aged 25 years and over. There are early signs that positivity rates in older teenagers and young adults may be levelling off.

Estimated infections in Wales seem to have peaked around the end of October, with rates decreasing over the last two weeks to around 18,400 people, or 1 in 165 people.

In Northern Ireland, infections appear to have peaked around mid-October, with rates decreasing in the most recent weeks. In the most recent week we estimate 13,600 people in Northern Ireland had COVID-19, or 1 in 155 people.

In Scotland, positivity rates increased throughout most of October and now appear to have levelled off at an estimated 33,800 people, or 1 in 155 people.

Analysis | Data

Weekly deaths involving COVID-19 reach highest since May

17 November 2020

There were 1,937 deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Wales in the week ending 6 November 2020, the highest weekly figure since the week ending 22 May 2020.

By region, the highest number of COVID-19 deaths was reported in the North West (568 deaths), followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (329).

In total, there were 11,812 deaths across England and Wales in the week ending 6 November 2020, of which one in six (16.4%) involved COVID-19.

Total deaths in the latest week remained higher than normal for this time of year, with hospitals, care homes and private homes all recording deaths in excess of the five-year average.

Deaths in England and Wales were above average for the ninth consecutive week

Number of deaths registered by week, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 6 November 2020

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  1. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 are provisional.
  4. The International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition (ICD-10) definitions are as follows: coronavirus (COVID-19) (U07.1 and U07.2).

Data download

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 58,645 COVID-19 deaths registered in England and Wales, up to 6 November 2020 (32,433 men and 26,212 women).

The majority of deaths involving COVID-19 have been among people aged 65 years and over (52,446 out of 58,645).

Our data are based on deaths registered in England and Wales and include all deaths where “COVID-19” was mentioned on the death certificates. Weekly figures are available by local authority and health board.

Analysis | Data

Also published in the last week

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Economy, business and jobs

The economy was 8.2% smaller in September than it was pre-lockdown, despite recovering ground since April

12 November 2020

Monthly gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.1% in September 2020 but was 8.2% lower than it was in February 2020, before lockdown began.

This is the fifth consecutive monthly increase following a record fall of 19.5% in April 2020, although the rate of growth has slowed.

Across Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2020, GDP increased by 15.5%. The broad sectors that make up the economy – services, production and construction – saw large rises in output as restrictions on activity eased. However, growth was from a low base following record declines in Quarter 2 (Apr to June), so all three sectors remained smaller than they were in February.

By sub-sector, our data show that consumer-facing services (including retail, travel, hotels and restaurants, and entertainment and recreation) fared slightly better on average than all other services in September, despite having more or less halved in size in April when the strictest restrictions were in place. However, similar to the economy as a whole, growth in these areas has lost momentum since the summer.

Analysis | Data

The unemployment rate is rising sharply and the employment rate is falling

10 November 2020

Early estimates for October 2020 suggest that there was a slight drop over the month in the number of payroll employees in the UK. Since March 2020, the number of payroll employees has fallen by 782,000; however, the larger falls were seen at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Data from our Labour Force Survey show the employment rate has been decreasing since the start of the pandemic, while the unemployment rate is now rising sharply.

The unemployment rate is rising sharply and the employment rate is falling

UK employment, unemployment and economic inactivity rates, seasonally adjusted, between July to September 2005 and July to September 2020

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Redundancies increased by 195,000 on the year, and a record 181,000 on the quarter, to a record high of 314,000 in the three months to September 2020. The annual increase was the largest since February to April 2009.

The number of people temporarily away from work has fallen since its peak in April and May 2020, and there are also fewer people away from work because of the pandemic and receiving no pay.

Annual growth in employee pay continued to strengthen as more employees returned to work from furlough, but pay growth is still subdued as some workers remain furloughed and employers are paying less in bonuses.

The number of total hours worked, and the number of vacancies, have both continued to recover in the latest period, but they are still below levels seen before the pandemic.

Analysis | Data

14% of businesses fear imminent closure

19 November 2020

Of all businesses that have not permanently ceased trading, 14% said they had low or no confidence that their business would survive the next three months.

Meanwhile, 40% of businesses said they had moderate confidence their business would survive and 40% said they had high confidence of survival, when surveyed between 19 October and 1 November 2020 in the Business Impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS).

The accommodation and food service activities industry had the highest percentage of businesses that had no or low confidence that their business would survive the next three months, at 34%. This was followed by the administrative and support service activities industry, at 18%.

Data from Adzuna shows Wales had the largest weekly increase of online job adverts, to 82% of its 2019 average. This is up from 77% last week.

Following the national “firebreak” ending on 9 November 2020 in Wales, footfall in Wales has increased significantly compared with levels seen last week, according to data from Springboard. Meanwhile, Scotland, Northern Ireland and all English regions saw a decline in footfall.

Analysis | Data

Public borrowing in October was double the previous year but remained below market expectation

20 November 2020

UK borrowing was £22.3 billion in October 2020, nearly double the £11.5 billion borrowed in October 2019 and substantially less than the £30 billion market expectation.

Central government tax receipts were £39.7 billion in October 2020 (on a national accounts basis), £2.7 billion less than in October 2019, with notable falls in Value Added Tax (VAT), business rates and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) income tax.

This month, central government bodies spent £71.3 billion on their day-to-day activities (referred to as current expenditure), £6.4 billion more than in October 2019, including £1.5 billion on its job furlough schemes.

Provisional estimates indicate borrowing in the first seven months of the financial year-to-October 2020 has reached £214.9 billion, nearly four times the £56.1 billion borrowed in the whole of 2019 to 2020.

The extra funding required to support government coronavirus (COVID-19) support schemes combined with reduced cash receipts and a fall in gross domestic product (GDP) have all helped push public sector net debt as a ratio of GDP to levels last seen in the early 1960s, with debt at the end of October 2020 at 100.8% of GDP.

As we have previously stated, both our borrowing and GDP estimates are subject to greater than usual uncertainty in part because of their partial reliance on forecast data.

This month, we have revised our previous published estimate of borrowing in the financial year-to-September 2020 down by £15.9 billion, largely because of a £5.7 billion increase in reported VAT receipts and a £6.9 billion reduction in our recording of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) payments.

Also, we have increased our previous estimate of GDP in the third quarter of 2020 by £43.2 billion to reflect the first published figure.

As a result, our estimate of debt as a ratio of GDP at the end of September 2020 has reduced by 2.3 percentage points, from the 103.5% published last month to 101.2%.

Analysis | Data

Retail sales see sixth consecutive month of growth

Retail sales volumes increased by 1.2% in October 2020 compared with September 2020; this is the sixth consecutive month of growth, resulting in an increase of 6.7% when compared with February 2020, before coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions were applied in the UK.

In October, growth in the volume of sales for non-store retailing (6.4%), household goods stores (3.2%) and department stores (3.1%) all contributed to the overall monthly increase in retail sales.

The year-on-year growth rate in the volume of retail sales saw a strong increase of 5.8% in October 2020. Feedback from a range of businesses suggests that consumers had started Christmas shopping earlier this year, further helped by early discounting in a range of stores.

Retail fuel sales are yet to make a full recovery from the falls experienced in March and April 2020 because of a reduction in car road traffic during the first UK-wide lockdown period, and again in October 2020.

Results from the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) during the two weeks from 5 October to 18 October 2020, shows that businesses within all retail sectors experienced some reduced footfall. A reduction in footfall across stores may have resulted in a shift from store spending to shopping online.

Also published in the last week

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Average house price growth accelerated in September

18 November 2020

The UK’s average house price increased by 4.7% over the year to September 2020, to stand at a record high of £245,000. This was up from an increase of 3.0% in August 2020 and is £11,000 higher than the corresponding month last year.

Pent-up demand may have contributed towards an increase in house prices. The Bank of England’s Money and Credit: September 2020 release reported that mortgage approvals for house purchases (an indicator of future lending) increased further in September 2020 to 91,500, the highest since September 2007.

The pandemic may have also caused house buyers to reassess their housing preferences. In our UK House Price Index (HPI) data, we have seen the average price of detached properties increase by 6.2% in the year to September, in comparison with flats and maisonettes increasing by 2.0% over the same period.

A change to the amount of tax paid on property purchases came into effect in July 2020 in all countries of the UK. This change may allow sellers to request higher prices as buyers’ overall costs are reduced.

Analysis | Data

People and social impacts

People stay at home during second lockdown

20 November 2020

Under the current lockdown restrictions, people in England are required to stay at home except for specific purposes.

The most common reason to leave home was to shop for food and medicine, reported by 75% of adults who left home in the past seven days in England.

A similar percentage was reported across all three Tiers two weeks ago (Tier 1: 77%, Tier 2: 79%, Tier 3: 76%).

The largest change in the reasons for leaving home in the past seven days when comparing responses from those in Tier 1 two weeks ago and responses for all adults in England during national lockdown, came from adults going out to eat or drink at a restaurant, bar or pub (1% this week), and the percentage of adults who left home to meet up with people in a personal place (4% this week).

This week, 1 in 10 (10%) adults in England who left home in the past seven days met up with people in a public place. A slightly higher percentage was reported by those in Tier 3 (14%), with a large difference when comparing those living under fewer restrictions in Tier 1 (25%) and Tier 2 (24%) two weeks ago

During national lockdown there has been a decrease in the percentage of adults leaving home for various restricted reasons

England, 28 October to 15 November 2020

Analysis | Data

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User requests

We continue to respond to data requests from the public, media and government during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Responses are published in our list of user requested data.

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  • Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional

    Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), by age, sex and region, in the latest weeks for which data are available.

  • Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain

    Indicators from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey covering the period 11 to 15 November 2020 to understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people, households and communities in Great Britain.

  • Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society

    Early experimental data on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the UK economy and society. These faster indicators are created using rapid response surveys, novel data sources and experimental methods.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK

    Estimates for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. This survey is being delivered in partnership with University of Oxford, University of Manchester, Public Health England and Wellcome Trust.

  • GDP monthly estimate, UK

    Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the value of goods and services produced in the UK. It estimates the size of and growth in the economy.