United Kingdom flag United Kingdom: Economic outline

Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

The United Kingdom is the 6th largest economy in the world. Following a severe contraction of -9.3% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UK GDP growth rebounded to 7.4% in 2021, before slowing down to 3.6% in 2022 amid persisting supply shortages and rising inflation (IMF). The IMF forecasts GDP growth to further reduce to 0.3% in 2023 and 0.6% in 2024. The OECD projections are more pessimistic, with an expected economic contraction of 0.4% in 2023 and a return to a positive growth rate of 0.2% in 2024. In addition to Brexit-related trade disruption, the UK is likely to continue being hit by significant supply-side constraints and acute labour shortages, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Business investment will remain subdued due to a higher cost of capital and lingering uncertainty (OECD).

The UK economy recovered strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to emergency support measures and a rapid vaccine rollout. However, this rebound was accompanied by supply and labour shortages in the wake of rising global demand and higher shipping costs (OECD). In 2022, the economic recovery was further impeded by the consequences of the war in Ukraine. Fuelled by higher energy prices, inflation soared to 9.1% in 2022 from 2.6% in 2021, and is expected to remain at that level in 2023 (9%), before decreasing to 3.7% in 2024 (IMF). The government has adopted several support measures to help households and businesses to cope with rising energy prices, including the Energy Price Guarantee and the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. The Bank of England has responded to rising inflation with monetary tightening, raising the policy rate several times, and starting to sell government bonds. After soaring to -12.8% GDP in 2020 in the context of decreasing revenues and increasing emergency measures costs, the budget deficit reduced to -4.3% GDP in 2022 (IMF). It is expected to further decline to -2.3% GDP in 2023 and -1.5% GDP in 2024 through increased revenues (IMF). The debt-to-GDP ratio decreased from a high 102.6% in 2020 to 87% in 2022, and is expected to further reduce to 79.9% in 2023 76.7% in 2024 (IMF). Tackling inflation is the priority, in addition to addressing long-standing structural challenges such as low productivity growth, high inequalities of opportunity and achieving carbon neutrality, with the ‘Plan for Growth’ and ‘Levelling Up’ agenda (OECD).

The measures taken by the government to support employees and the self-employed helped to contain the rise of the unemployment rate, which decreased to an estimated 3.8% in 2022 (from 4.5% in 2021). Unemployment is expected to increase again to 4.8% in 2023 and 5% in 2024 due to weaker demand (IMF). The country’s GDP per capita (PPP) was estimated at USD 49,675 in 2021 by the World Bank, but the relatively solid macroeconomic performance of the United Kingdom conceals weaknesses and situations of inequality. Thus, as the IMF has emphasised, strengthening human capital is a key priority. The government's efforts to invest in infrastructure, increase the supply of housing and increase the participation of women in the labour market will also help support more sustainable and inclusive growth.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 3,081.873,332.063,587.753,830.054,083.25
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 45,46148,91352,42655,73259,190
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -3.8-3.3-2.4-3.1-3.4
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 101.9104.1105.9107.3108.5
Inflation Rate (%) n/a7.
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) -116.14-121.96-131.37-138.28-146.50
Current Account (in % of GDP) -3.8-3.7-3.7-3.6-3.6

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, 2016

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
British Pound (GBP) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 ZAR

Source: World Bank, 2015


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Latest Update: November 2023