This page contains data and analysis published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) from 21 to 25 September 2020. Go to our live page for the most up-to-date insights on COVID-19.

25 September 2020

Public sector borrowing

Today’s public sector finance figures reflect the ongoing unprecedented impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown and the government’s support for individuals and businesses.

UK borrowing was £35.9 billion in August 2020, around seven times the £5.4 billion borrowed in August 2019 but around £2 billion lower than expectations.

Central government tax receipts were £37.3 billion in August 2020 (on a national accounts basis), £7.5 billion less than in August 2019; with Value Added Tax, Corporation Tax and Income Tax receipts falling considerably.

Central government bodies spent £78.5 billion on their day-to-day activities (current expenditure) in August 2020, £19.5 billion more than in August 2019, including nearly £11.0 billion on job furlough schemes.

Provisional estimates indicate borrowing in the first five months of the financial year to August 2020 have reached £173.7 billion, more than three times the £56.6 billion borrowed in the whole of financial year 2019 to 2020.

Borrowing estimates are subject to greater than usual uncertainty due to their partial reliance on forecast data. Borrowing in the financial year to July 2020 was revised down by £12.7 billion to £137.7 billion compared with the previous estimate. This reduction was largely due to lower than previously recorded spending on goods and services by central government and stronger than previously estimated tax receipts.

The need for the extra funding required to support the government’s COVID relief schemes, combined with a fall in gross domestic product (GDP), has helped push debt at the end of July 2020 to 101.9 % of GDP, the highest debt ratio since the financial year ending March 1961.

Today’s data highlight the emerging fiscal impact of the coronavirus crisis but will be prone to material future revisions and it will take many months before the true scale of the impact becomes clear.

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24 September 2020

COVID-19 in charts

We have published 10 charts that show how the emergence of COVID-19 has affected the UK, from health to the economy and individual lifestyles.

Looking back, we can see that excess deaths hit their peak in mid-April, when the number of people dying was more than double the five-year average for that time of year. Our infections study data also shows that after a period of relative stability over the summer, new infections have begun to rise again in recent weeks.

Data collected by Google measures the change in the number of people frequenting different public settings in the UK throughout the pandemic, compared with February. They show that the number of people spending time in public parks is still almost double what it was pre-pandemic. In contrast, the number of people spending time in public transport hubs, retail and recreation areas and workplaces are still yet to reach pre-pandemic levels again.

The number of people visiting workplaces, shops and public transport hubs fell drastically because of lockdown

Google mobility data showing the change in the number of people frequenting different public settings in the UK, compared with a February base

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The inevitable impact of lockdown meant that the economy shrunk by around a quarter between February and April. It has since recovered some ground between May and July, but it remains substantially smaller than before the pandemic.

In addition, almost one-third of jobs have been furloughed at some point, according to HMRC data, with young people most affected.

Data from our Labour Force Survey also shows us people are competing for fewer jobs, with the number of open vacancies at half what it was before the pandemic. The ratio of vacancies to jobs has risen slightly since the height of lockdown (April to June), but it remains lower than anything seen during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

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24 September 2020

Diary of a nation: life in lockdown

Six months ago, lockdown measures were introduced in Great Britain to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and throughout this time, we have been asking people about their opinions and behaviours.

We have now presented people’s experiences in their own words, capturing how people across the country have been coping with the many changes brought about by the pandemic.

In March, more than half of adults said they thought life would be back to normal within six months. However, when the same question was posed to people in August, “more than a year” was the most popular response, with over a third (37%) of adults saying they thought this is how long the pandemic would last.

The uncertainty people faced was clear to see in the survey’s free text responses, which we now present for the first time. One person said their life was “on hold” during self-isolation, while another said they lacked “any idea about when and how things might ‘return to normal’”.

Following five months of restrictions, and the end of the pandemic still not in sight, a third of adults said they felt COVID-19 was the most important issue facing Britain. However, others have expressed positive outcomes from the last six months, such as one respondent who said they “appreciate the little things that matter more” and another who said they were enjoying a “more thoughtful and engaging lifestyle”.

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22 September 2020

Deaths involving COVID-19 by occupation

Among men working in health care and social care, the rate of death involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) was around 3.2 times higher in those who likely acquired the virus before lockdown than those who likely acquired the virus during lockdown.

Between 9 March and 30 June 2020, prior to the widespread easing of lockdown restrictions, 5,330 deaths involving COVID-19 in the working age population (those aged 20 to 64 years) of England and Wales were registered. 72.0% of the total number (3,839 deaths) were likely to be a result of an infection acquired before lockdown on 23 March. Occupation information is available on the death certificate.

Our analysis shows that mortality rates for both sexes during lockdown were generally half those seen before lockdown for all major occupation groups. Despite this, some groups of occupations continued to have high rates of death involving COVID-19 across the entire period, when compared to rates in the population.

Among men, four out of the nine major occupation groups had higher rates of death involving COVID-19 in the before and during lockdown groups, compared with rates among those of the same age and sex in the population (elementary occupations; caring, leisure and other service occupations; process, plant and machine operatives; and skilled trades occupations).

Among women, only those working in the caring, leisure and other service occupations had higher rates of death involving COVID-19 in the before and during lockdown groups. People working in the health and social care sector are recorded in a wide range of occupational groups. Men working in health and social care experienced rates of death involving COVID-19 that were three times higher in the before lockdown group than the during lockdown group. For women, only social care workers had elevated rates in the before lockdown group.

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  • Public sector finances, UK

    How the relationship between UK public sector monthly income and expenditure leads to changes in deficit and debt.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) in 10 charts

    Our data highlight the profound impacts of the pandemic on the UK economy and society.

  • Diary of a nation: life in lockdown

    Six months ago, lockdown measures were introduced in the UK to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Throughout the pandemic, we have been asking people about their opinions and behaviours and for the first time, we present people’s experiences in their own words.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by occupation, before and during lockdown, England and Wales

    Provisional analysis of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) by occupation where the infection may have been acquired either before or during the period of lockdown.