A wave of staff absences triggered by Omicron sweeping across the UK could shave £35bn off the British economy, according to new figures released today.
The loss in output caused by workers being forced to self-isolate after contracting Covid-19 may wipe off around 8.8 per cent of January and February’s combined gross domestic product (GDP), reveals new research carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
The news was first reported by The Sunday Times.
The more than eight per cent hit to the economy is based on an assumption that 25 per cent of the workforce is away from work.
Some 2.6 per cent, or around £10bn, would still be wiped off output in January and February even if just eight per cent of the workforce was absent.
Pushpin Singh, an economist at the CEBR, said: “Even with only a peak of 8 per cent, there will be an economic cost.”
“Nonetheless, we would expect that most of this would be made up during the rest of the year,” he added.
The rate of absenteeism has soared after the more transmissible Omicron strain of coronavirus entered the UK, hamstringing businesses from delivering normal services.
The imposition of Plan B measures, which include encouraging Brits to work from home when they can, has delivered an extra blow to the UK’s services economy.
IHS Markit’s latest purchasing managers’ index for the services industry, a closely watched indicator for economic health, dropped to 10-month low in December as consumers exercised greater caution in the face of soaring Covid-19 cases.
Pantheon Macroeconomics, a consultancy, expect the economy to contract 0.6 per cent in December.
Latest official GDP figures are released this coming Friday. However, they will cover November.