Footfall in shops plunged 27 per cent last week as lockdown hammers economy

Rishi Sunak today warned Britons to brace for the economy to get 'worse before it gets better' as he said the new coronavirus lockdown will have a 'significant' cost.

Despite saying vaccines offered 'hope' and there were signs of 'resilience' in UK plc, the Chancellor delivered a grim message about the scale of the devastation from the pandemic.

In a statement to MPs, he insisted the government was right to have taken measures including offering another £4.6million in grants and discretionary support for stricken businesses.  

But Mr Sunak put the country on notice of looming tax rises and spending cuts, as he said he is determined to take action to 'repair' the public finances when the immediate crisis is past.   

The gloomy assessment came as figures showed footfall at shops plunged more than a quarter last week as the brutal restrictions came into force.

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Total shopper numbers tumbled by 27.1 per cent in the seven days to January 9 compared to the previous week. 

The grim figures from research group Springboard emerged as Mr Sunak faced MPs for the first time since announcing a bailouts to prop up businesses.

But he faced calls from Labour to go even further amid warnings that many normally thriving firms are 'fighting to survive'.

In a statement to MPs, Rishi Sunak insisted the government was right to have taken measures including offering another £4.6million in grants and discretionary support for stricken businesses

In a statement to MPs, Rishi Sunak insisted the government was right to have taken measures including offering another £4.6million in grants and discretionary support for stricken businesses

Overall, shopper numbers tumbled by 27.1 per cent in the seven days to January 9 compared to the previous week - with some retail locations hit harder than others

Overall, shopper numbers tumbled by 27.1 per cent in the seven days to January 9 compared to the previous week - with some retail locations hit harder than others 

There are fears that the UK is now tracking the downside scenario set out by the OBR watchdog at the end of November, after mutant coronavirus forced fresh lockdown

There are fears that the UK is now tracking the downside scenario set out by the OBR watchdog at the end of November, after mutant coronavirus forced fresh lockdown

How the government's coronavirus costs are set to top £300billion

£280billion 

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Cost of the response for 2020-21 as given by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the Spending Review in November. 

Includes support for the NHS and other public services, plus test and Trace and 'moonshot', as well as furlough and self-employed schemes, tax relief and extra funding for devolved administrations. 

£6billion 

Estimated cost of extending the furlough for another month to the end of April, announced in December.

£4.6billion 

The predicted cost of grants for businesses announced today for the third national lockdown, plus a discretionary fund for local councils to deploy. 

Up to £26 billion 

The NAO's estimate of the cost of Bounceback loans that will not be repaid due to fraud or insolvency. 

£55billion 

Public sector funding for the coronavirus response already allocated to next year. 

Unclear

The costs of extra unemployment and other benefits due to the pandemic.

£120billion 

Additional borrowing expected in 2020-21 as a result of lost tax revenue due to the economic slump. 

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Last week Mr Sunak hinted furlough could be extended again as he announced another £4.6billion of bailouts for lockdown-stricken businesses - with economists warning of the 'colossal' hit from the surging pandemic.

Venues hammered by Boris Johnson's dramatic decision to impose a new lockdown are getting one-off grants of up to £9,000 to keep them afloat over the next seven weeks.

Some 600,000 premises across the UK are set to receive the cash, while another £594million is being pumped into a 'discretionary fund' to support other firms affected.

Mr Sunak did not make any move on furlough today, merely pointing out it had already been extended to the end of April. 

He said: 'Even with the significant economic support we've provided, over 800,000 people have lost their job since February.

'And while the new national restrictions are necessary to control the spread of the virus, they will have a further significant economic impact.

'We should expect the economy to get worse before it gets better.'

Mr Sunak said vaccines meant that the UK could 'start to see a

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