Scotland’s economy to grow after Omicron slowdown
Latest analysis from KPMG predicts growth
Latest analysis from KPMG predicts growth
As more information emerges about the Omicron variant and restrictions begin to ease, Scotland’s GDP is expected to grow by 4.8% this year, according to new analysis by KPMG UK.
With Omicron posing a milder setback than earlier strains, KPMG expects all regions and nations to reach their pre-COVID levels of output in line with the UK. Scotland’s growth is then expected to moderate and settle at more typical levels of 2% in 2023.
According to KPMG’s UK Regional Economic Outlook, Scotland’s economy contracted by 9.7% over 2020, broadly in line with the UK average, and in 2021 Q3 GDP was still 1.9% below its pre-pandemic level. However, momentum gathered at the end of 2021, with monthly data for October 2021 showing that GDP was just 0.4% below its pre-pandemic level.
Now the loosening of pandemic restrictions, which have up until now been more stringent than in England, are expected to help encourage growth in Scotland’s economy.
Outlook for GDP growth in UK’s nations and regions
Yael Selfin, Chief Economist at KPMG UK, commented on the report: “Our latest analysis suggests that the Omicron variant has not impacted growth significantly in Scotland. However, rising taxes and borrowing costs, as well as elevated inflation, will squeeze households’ purchasing power. And at the same time, the lingering effects of supply chain bottlenecks together with a persistent shortage of labour could constrain production this year.
“Nevertheless, after a relatively weak start to 2022 brought about by Omicron, growth should pick up from March, with overall GDP growth in 2022 reaching around three-quarters the rate of last year in Scotland.”
James Kergon, senior partner in Scotland for KPMG UK, said: “Ensuring our economy continues to grow is the only way to make sure Scotland comes back stronger after the pandemic. Our latest estimates are welcome news, especially for businesses in retail, travel and hospitality who have been the hardest hit in recent months. While there are signs of optimism for some, there’s no doubt that 2022 will be another challenging year for some sectors. It’s my hope that we can kick start a post-pandemic growth, and make sure that Scotland’s businesses can focus on long term growth, rather than survival.”
Vishal Chopra, head of tax for KPMG UK in Scotland, said: “Businesses will welcome a return to pre-pandemic levels of output this year, however a broader ‘levelling up’ of the UK economy will require further initiatives and investment and may take a decade or more for any major changes to be firmly embedded in Scotland.”
Outlook for inflation and interest rates
According to KPMG’s latest economic outlook, Inflation is expected to remain elevated this year, and to peak at around 6.5% in April as the new regulated price cap on households’ gas prices take effect. However, as energy prices gradually stabilise and supply chains recover, it expects inflation to moderate significantly by the end of this year and to approach the Bank of England’s 2% target by the start of Q2 next year.
Nevertheless, the current elevated level of inflation could see the Bank of England act relatively swiftly this year to stem any permanent rise in inflation expectations, according to the outlook. KPMG has currently pencilled in three possible interest rate rises in 2022; in February, August, and November.
The Bank of England may therefore have room to hold off further tightening next year, with only one additional rate rise in November, taking Bank Rate to 1.25% by the end of 2023.
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About the research
The forecasts were produced by the KPMG macroeconomics team using a suite of external and in-house models capturing the main inter-relationships in the UK economy. As with all forecasts, these are subject to considerable uncertainty and the outturn may differ significantly.
KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 21 offices across the UK with approximately 16,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.3 billion in the year ended 30 September 2020. KPMG is a global organisation of independent professional services firms providing Audit, Legal, Tax and Advisory services. It operates in 147 countries and territories and has more than 219,000 people working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. KPMG