RAF airman, 25, who was ‘determined to win’ rugby match against the Army died of brain injury

Senior aircraftman Scott Stevenson, 25, (pictured) was hurt playing for the RAF first team in the inter-services match lsat year

An RAF airman who was determined not to let his side down in a rugby match against the Army died from a head injury after refusing to leave the pitch despite suffering three serious blows to the head, an inquest heard.

Senior aircraftman Scott Stevenson, 25, was hurt playing for the RAF first team in the inter-services match lsat year.

The fullback was tackled four times – three involving significant blows to the left side of his head – before falling unconscious in the second half of the game.

He was airlifted from the pitch in Aldershot, Hants, to St George’s Hospital, London, but died three days later with his parents present.

Footage of the match appears to show Mr Stevenson being hit on the left side of his head by a player’s knee.

He looks ‘dazed and confused’ when he stands up, and minutes later he fell unconscious.

Earlier in the match, Mr Stevenson, who was based at RAF Marham, Norfolk, suffered at least three tackles to his head, and could be seen holding where he was hit, but he continued playing.

His mother Donna Stevenson, who had been watching the match streamed online, told the inquest at Winchester Coroners’ Court: ‘I’ve lost my son and my best friend. He was always there for me.

‘When I watched that game online and I saw him go down, I knew that my world was changed forever.

‘I knew that he was never going to come back, especially when I saw him in the hospital. I just knew then that I had lost him.’

Marham Wing GR4 Tornadoes at RAF Marham, Norfolk, where Scott Stevenson was based

Marham Wing GR4 Tornadoes at RAF Marham, Norfolk, where Scott Stevenson was based

His father, Stephen Stevenson, told the inquest he had coached Scott from the age of five, adding: ‘There was a great affinity between us. I taught him how to tackle and he was one of the best.

‘The saddest part of this is that I played the game longer than he was alive. I’ve had bangs to the head and been unconscious and I’m still here. It’s tough to accept that.’

He added: ‘For me, the legacy moving forward is that we need to educate players that when it comes to a head injury.

‘At the point of feeling numbness in one of your limbs, that means it’s pretty serious and you owe it to yourself to get off the field and get yourself sorted out.’

Christopher Wilkinson, senior area coroner for Hampshire, New Forest, Portsmouth and Southampton, said: ‘Scott’s strength of character, with his absolute dedication to the game and his team, may have prevented him from raising a flag to say he wasn’t feeling good.’

Mr Wilkinson recorded a verdict of accidental death due to a ‘significant brain injury’ incurred in the match on September 13 last year.

He said: ‘There has been a change over the years. A focus on concussion and head injury has become a significant part of the semi-professional game. That should continue and it is apparent that was treated carefully throughout the match.’

He continued: ‘The footage of the match itself shows Scott healthy, fit, fully engaged in the match, playing as he has always done.

‘As I would expect with this level of game in the Armed Services, the level of professionalism was immense.

‘It is evident that in a slightly gentler first half, Scott did take a couple of blows to the left side of his head and he can be seen rubbing his head.

‘Scott was then involved in a significantly heavy tackle in the last ten minutes of the game.’

‘There appears to have been a knee contact with the left side of his head. And that’s the one where he looks dazed and confused when he stands up.

‘We know that minutes later, he was showing significant signs of concussion and then he fell into unconsciousness.’

He added: ‘I do believe he won’t have told anybody that he wasn’t feeling well because of his determination to get the match finished on a win.’

Mr Wilkinson described the airman’s death as a ‘tragedy’.

The airman’s brother, Shaun Stevenson, said: ‘It didn’t really matter if you had known Scott for 25 years or 25 minutes, you would immediately find a place for him in your heart.

‘We know the huge number of lives he touched. At his funeral, people had to wait outside the church to enter because it was so full.’

Did London’s lockdown work? Capital has the same level of coronavirus antibodies as Stockholm

Covid-19 has infected the same number of people in London and Stockholm, despite the Swedish capital controversially choosing not to lock down, scientists say.

Antibody testing – which reveal if someone has previously been infected – show around one in six people in both cities caught the virus during the crisis.

Public Health England surveillance studies estimate that 17.5 per cent of Londoners had caught the virus by late June, based on testing 1,000 people a week.

And a similar Government programme in Sweden showed that 17 per cent of citydwellers in its capital had been infected by the same time period.

The UK and Sweden tackled the coronavirus epidemic very differently, with Boris Johnson ordering everyone to stay at home and shutting all but essential shops on March 24 for more than three months.

Sweden, on the other hand, only introduced a handful of restrictions, including banning mass gatherings and encouraging people to work and study from home. 

Two British experts who compiled the research said the finding throws into question whether the the economically-crippling lockdown actually worked in London.  

Writing in the study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the researchers say the restrictions in the English capital came too late. 

Sweden has a death rate of 564 people per million population, which is still better than the UK’s 707 per million. Although both epidemics have followed a similar trajectory

Two British experts who compiled the research drew on official antibody testing data from around the world. London and Stockholm had the most amount of positive results, other than New York City

Two British experts who compiled the research drew on official antibody testing data from around the world. London and Stockholm had the most amount of positive results, other than New York City

Public Health England surveillance studies estimate that 17.5 per cent of people in London had caught the virus by late June, based on testing 1,000 people a week

Public Health England surveillance studies estimate that 17.5 per cent of people in London had caught the virus by late June, based on testing 1,000 people a week

The authors, retired consultant neurologist David Goldsmith and Eric Orlowski, a behavioural scientists from University College London, said: ‘Lest this strategy seem like just the traditional risky Swedish exceptionalism, we in the UK would do well to remember we nearly trod the same path.

‘Right now, despite “strict (but tardy) lockdown” in the UK, and the more measured Swedish response, both countries have high seven-day averaged SARS-CoV-2 death rates when compared to other Scandinavian and European countries.

Covid jobs bloodbath in UK as employment sees biggest fall in a DECADE after lockdown 

The number of people on company payrolls in the UK has fallen by 730,000 since lockdown –  as employment saw the biggest drop in a decade.

Dire figures have started to show the huge impact of coronavirus on the labour market, with a wave of jobs being axed.

In the three months to June, the number in work decreased by 220,000 – the largest quarterly slump since 2009. Total hours worked slumped by a fifth over the quarter to the lowest level since 1994.

Meanwhile, the numbers on payroll tumbled another 114,000 in July, as the claimant count – which includes some people who are in work – increased again to reach 2.7million. 

Underlining the misery, store chain Debenhams has announced that it is cutting 2,500 roles. 

However, analysts warned the grim news is the tip of the iceberg, as the full effects of lockdown have so far been masked by the government’s massive support schemes. 

The latest figures today showed that 9.6million jobs have been furloughed, with the Treasury paying out £33.8billion in subisidies. 

Many people appear to have chosen to stay economically ‘inactive’ rather than hunt for work – meaning they remain outside the headline unemployment figures.

Figures released tomorrow are due to confirm that the UK has formally entered a recession – with a second consecutive quarter of GDP contracting. The Bank of England expects the fall to be as much as 21 per cent.

Boris Johnson said everyone knew the country was in for a ‘bumpy’ ride, but insisted the government was ready to make ‘colossal’ investments in the future.  

‘Only once we can fully understand both the pandemic and the impact of the measures that were taken – after 1-2 years at least – can we then begin fairly to judge what was done correctly.’

Much attention has been drawn to Sweden, for its controversial decision not to enforce a lockdown. 

At its peak, the country recorded only around 100 daily deaths, and as of July, this number had fallen into single figures, suggesting the virus is under control.

But UK scientists say this approach may not have proved so successful in the UK. 

Firstly, half of Swedish households are single-person, compared to just 15 per cent of the UK.

Keith Neal, emeritus professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘If you go to work and catch Covid-19, and you live with a partner, you’ve got someone to infect.

‘In 50 per cent of Swedish households that wasn’t a possibility – and household transmission is the key risk, we now know.

‘Sweden, per head of population, is a much wealthier country than the UK, and deprivation has been a leading driver for serious Covid illness here.’ 

Still, Sweden has not escaped unscathed. It has so far recorded more than 5,700 Covid-19 deaths – giving it one of the highest rates in Europe, taking into account the size of the population.

The Scandinavian nation has a death rate of 564 people per million population, which is still better than the UK’s 707 per million.

Its neighbours Norway and Finland, which did introduce lockdowns, have had more than 250 and 300 deaths respectively.

Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, says it’s also a ‘myth’ that Sweden did not lockdown at all. 

Mass gatherings were banned, people were encouraged to work from home and older secondary students and university students were taught remotely.

Much of the school system did remain open – but mounting evidence suggests school closures had at best a minimal impact on reducing infection rates, including in Britain, as children are less likely to catch or spread the virus.

Separate modelling has suggested that the UK’s epidemic was already peaknig before Boris Johnson introduced unprecedented curbs on March 24.

It has led some scientists to believe that banning large gatherings and telling people to keep two metres apart would have been sufficient to keep the virus under control.

Professor Simon Wood, a mathematician at Bristol University, said  a growing body of data that indicates the average Covid-19 victim dies 23 days after being infected. 

The darkest days in the UK’s outbreak were on April 8 and 9, when more than 2,000 people passed away from the virus, official figures show. 

Professor Simon Wood believes most of these patients were infected between March 18 and 19 – 23 days earlier – and five days before the country locked down.

He claims that social distnacing measures alone would have squashed the UK’s epidemic. 

On March 16, the UK Government launched a public information campaign urging people to wash their hands and keep two metres (6’6′) away from others.

Many Britons were already working from home, shops, restaurants and gyms were closing and large public gatherings had been banned.   

He said it was difficult to be certain when infections peaked in Britain because widespread testing was abandoned in mid-March.  

Boy, 6, loses foot after mother runs him over with lawnmower

Boy, six, loses foot after his mother runs him over driving a ride-on lawnmower thinking he was a paving stone

  • Bethany Douglas reversed over son Jonah’s foot in a freak accident in Missouri
  • Doctors told the sports-mad youngster his leg would have to be amputated
  • But brave Jonah is walking without assistance just two month after the surgery 

A six-year-old boy lost his foot after his mother accidentally run him over him with a lawn mower, initially thinking she’d just hit a paving stone. 

Jonah Douglas was playing outside when mother Bethany, 41, crashed into him while driving the ride-on garden tool at their home in Missouri. 

He was rushed to hospital where doctors revealed the devastating news that his foot couldn’t be re-attached, and a Syme’s amputation was performed through his ankle.

His parents feared their sports-mad son would be out of action for the rest of the year but Jonah has surpassed all expectations and is walking without assistance just two months following the major surgery.

Jonah Douglas was playing outside when mother Bethany, 41, pictured together, crashed into him while driving the ride-on garden tool at their home in Missouri

Jonah was rushed to hospital where doctors revealed the devastating news that his foot couldn't be re-attached, and a Syme's amputation was performed through his ankle

Jonah was rushed to hospital where doctors revealed the devastating news that his foot couldn't be re-attached, and a Syme's amputation was performed through his ankle

Jonah, pictured left, was rushed to hospital where doctors revealed the devastating news that his foot couldn’t be re-attached, and a Syme’s amputation was performed through his ankle, pictured right

Bethany said: ‘He has well exceeded what I was hoping for him.

‘It was very emotional seeing him walk with his prosthetic. I cried the whole first day of him walking on it.

‘He has been on the trampoline bouncing and having lightsaber fights with his brother since.

‘I’ve not seen him running yet but I’m sure it will come soon.

‘It’s inspiring to me as an adult. We can learn so much from this kid and his mentality.’

Bethany reversed over Jonah’s foot as he approached the lawnmower from behind, to grab hold of a cup of water which was balancing on it.

The mother-of-five, from Mount Vernon, says she felt a bump and thought she had run over a paving stone before hearing Jonah’s screams over the hum of the machinery.

The ex-trauma nurse had previously warned her children to keep away from the lawnmower, but Jonah thought he was safe from behind and didn’t expect the machine to reverse.

Jonah is walking without assistance just two months following the major surgery

Jonah's parents feared their sports-mad son, pictured with his prosthetic on a slide, would be out of action for the rest of the year

Jonah’s parents feared their sports-mad son, pictured right with his prosthetic on a slide, would be out of action for the rest of the year but he has surpassed all expectations and is walking without assistance, pictured left, just two months following the major surgery

An X-ray shows how the six-year-old's foot was shredded following the freak accident this year

An X-ray shows how the six-year-old’s foot was shredded following the freak accident this year

Tragically, it was the second amputation the family have had to deal with in six months, Jonah’s sister having lost her right leg above the knee at the end of last year following complications related to a car accident she was in.

Bethany said: ‘We had just got her out of hospital at the end of February of this year and then a few months later we had another amputation to deal with.

‘Sometimes you think, have I done something wrong?

‘It’s complicated to get your heart and head around.

‘There’s hope because they are both still here though. That’s the silver lining.

‘They’ve just lost a couple of legs in the process.’

The family have since sold the lawnmower in a garage sale but Bethany says the tragic accident won’t stop them getting another one in the future.

She said: ‘I was worried the sound of lawnmowers might bother Jonah but he has been out in the yard while the neighbours use theirs and he is fine with it.

‘I will definitely mow again at some point. It was just a freak accident.

‘I don’t want my kids to grow up fearful or change their lifestyle because accidents happen.

‘However, I think they listen to me more now when I tell them not to go near something.’

RAF airman, 25, who was ‘determined to win’ rugby match against the Army died of brain injury

Senior aircraftman Scott Stevenson, 25, (pictured) was hurt playing for the RAF first team in the inter-services match lsat year

An RAF airman who was determined not to let his side down in a rugby match against the Army died from a head injury after refusing to leave the pitch despite suffering three serious blows to the head, an inquest heard.

Senior aircraftman Scott Stevenson, 25, was hurt playing for the RAF first team in the inter-services match lsat year.

The fullback was tackled four times – three involving significant blows to the left side of his head – before falling unconscious in the second half of the game.

He was airlifted from the pitch in Aldershot, Hants, to St George’s Hospital, London, but died three days later with his parents present.

Footage of the match appears to show Mr Stevenson being hit on the left side of his head by a player’s knee.

He looks ‘dazed and confused’ when he stands up, and minutes later he fell unconscious.

Earlier in the match, Mr Stevenson, who was based at RAF Marham, Norfolk, suffered at least three tackles to his head, and could be seen holding where he was hit, but he continued playing.

His mother Donna Stevenson, who had been watching the match streamed online, told the inquest at Winchester Coroners’ Court: ‘I’ve lost my son and my best friend. He was always there for me.

‘When I watched that game online and I saw him go down, I knew that my world was changed forever.

‘I knew that he was never going to come back, especially when I saw him in the hospital. I just knew then that I had lost him.’

Marham Wing GR4 Tornadoes at RAF Marham, Norfolk, where Scott Stevenson was based

Marham Wing GR4 Tornadoes at RAF Marham, Norfolk, where Scott Stevenson was based

His father, Stephen Stevenson, told the inquest he had coached Scott from the age of five, adding: ‘There was a great affinity between us. I taught him how to tackle and he was one of the best.

‘The saddest part of this is that I played the game longer than he was alive. I’ve had bangs to the head and been unconscious and I’m still here. It’s tough to accept that.’

He added: ‘For me, the legacy moving forward is that we need to educate players that when it comes to a head injury.

‘At the point of feeling numbness in one of your limbs, that means it’s pretty serious and you owe it to yourself to get off the field and get yourself sorted out.’

Christopher Wilkinson, senior area coroner for Hampshire, New Forest, Portsmouth and Southampton, said: ‘Scott’s strength of character, with his absolute dedication to the game and his team, may have prevented him from raising a flag to say he wasn’t feeling good.’

Mr Wilkinson recorded a verdict of accidental death due to a ‘significant brain injury’ incurred in the match on September 13 last year.

He said: ‘There has been a change over the years. A focus on concussion and head injury has become a significant part of the semi-professional game. That should continue and it is apparent that was treated carefully throughout the match.’

He continued: ‘The footage of the match itself shows Scott healthy, fit, fully engaged in the match, playing as he has always done.

‘As I would expect with this level of game in the Armed Services, the level of professionalism was immense.

‘It is evident that in a slightly gentler first half, Scott did take a couple of blows to the left side of his head and he can be seen rubbing his head.

‘Scott was then involved in a significantly heavy tackle in the last ten minutes of the game.’

‘There appears to have been a knee contact with the left side of his head. And that’s the one where he looks dazed and confused when he stands up.

‘We know that minutes later, he was showing significant signs of concussion and then he fell into unconsciousness.’

He added: ‘I do believe he won’t have told anybody that he wasn’t feeling well because of his determination to get the match finished on a win.’

Mr Wilkinson described the airman’s death as a ‘tragedy’.

The airman’s brother, Shaun Stevenson, said: ‘It didn’t really matter if you had known Scott for 25 years or 25 minutes, you would immediately find a place for him in your heart.

‘We know the huge number of lives he touched. At his funeral, people had to wait outside the church to enter because it was so full.’

Germany suffers worst daily spike in coronavirus cases since May with 1,226 new infections  

Germany saw its worst daily spike in coronavirus cases for three months today as a ‘very concerning’ rebound in infections continues to gather pace. 

Health officials announced 1,226 new cases this morning, the highest figure since May 9 – bringing the total from 217,293 to 218,519. 

The seven-day average of new cases is now above 900, having been as low as 350 a month ago. 

Angela Merkel’s health minister said today there were outbreaks happening in almost all of Germany and warned that every new case was making track-and-trace procedures harder. 

He added that the rise was partly being driven by parties and family gatherings – warning that the virus can spread quickly ‘when there’s alcohol involved’.  

Germany today suffered its worst daily spike in coronavirus cases since May 9 as 1,226 new infections were added to the tally 

Germany's daily death toll has mostly remained in single figures despite the rising infections

Germany’s daily death toll has mostly remained in single figures despite the rising infections  

Having not seen 1,000 cases in a day from for nearly three months, Germany has now crossed that threshold four times in the last week. 

The last seven days have seen nearly 6,500 new infections, up from 5,096 the week before and fewer than 3,000 per week as recently as mid-July.

Germany’s R rate has been above the 1.0 threshold for most of the last month, although it fell to 0.97 in the latest update on Tuesday.

Health officials say the ongoing rise is ‘very concerning’ and have linked it to travellers returning from summer holidays elsewhere in Europe. 

Germany yesterday extended its travel warning for Spain to cover Madrid and the Basque country, having previously curtailed travel to Catalonia and nearby areas.  

While cases have been rising in Germany for several weeks, the daily death toll has mostly remained in single figures. 

Six new deaths in the last 24 hours brought the death toll from 9,201 to 9,207 today, still substantially lower than in Britain, Spain, France or Italy.  

Health minister Jens Spahn told German radio today that there were smaller and larger outbreaks happening in most of the country, in contrast to previous spikes which were confined to particular neighbourhoods or factories.

Only 46 districts have not recorded a case in the last week, down from 120 a month ago when cases were at their lowest.   

‘This obviously – if we don’t all watch out now – can lead to a certain dynamic’ and the reemergence of the pandemic,’ Spahn said.  

The health minister reiterated appeals to wear masks, keep distance and not go overboard in social settings.

He said: ‘When there’s alcohol involved, when a festive event turns into a party, it can go very, very quickly.’ 

The Robert Koch diseases institute (RKI) which gathers the figures says the rising numbers are ‘very concerning’. 

‘A further worsening of the situation must be avoided. This will only succeed if the entire population continues to be committed to decreasing transmission,’ it says.  

A traveller arriving in Germany gets his swab sample collected in a Covid-19 walk-in test center at Cologne Bonn Airport

A traveller arriving in Germany gets his swab sample collected in a Covid-19 walk-in test center at Cologne Bonn Airport 

The rising numbers in Germany come amid fears of a second wave across Europe, with France and Spain also seeing alarming increases in infections. 

France’s seven-day average is now at 1,691 new cases per day, the highest level since April and up from just over 500 in mid-July. 

Prime minister Jean Castex warned that the public was becoming careless and said that the ‘rebound in the epidemic’ could become ‘hard to control’. 

The increase has led to fears that France will be the next country to be struck off Britain’s list of approved countries for travel.  

Spain has already been cut off and cases have continued to mount since then, with the seven-day average now at 3,357 cases per day compared to 480 a month ago.  

Spahn, the German health minister, also voiced doubts about Vladimir Putin’s claims on Tuesday that Russia has developed the world’s first coronavirus vaccine. 

Spahn said he was ‘very sceptical’ about Putin’s announcement, saying the jab had not been ‘sufficiently tested’.

Russia has made the vaccine race a matter of national prestige and has named the product ‘Sputnik V’ after the former Soviet space satellites.  

‘It’s not about being first somehow – it’s about having an effective, tested and therefore safe vaccine,’ Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio.

‘I would be pleased if we had an initial, good vaccine but based on everything we know – and that’s the fundamental problem, namely that the Russians aren’t telling us much – this has not been sufficiently tested.’ 

German health minister Jens Spahn (pictured) warned that outbreaks were happening across most of the country

German health minister Jens Spahn (pictured) warned that outbreaks were happening across most of the country  

Spahn added: ‘In order to have trust in such a vaccine, I think it is very, very important, even during a pandemic, to properly do studies, the relevant tests and especially to make them public. 

‘The problem is that we know very little about it as the Russian authorities are not being very transparent.’ 

Government officials have said it will be administered to medical personnel, and then to teachers, on a voluntary basis in the coming weeks. 

Mass roll-out in Russia is being lined up for October and officials claim that 20 countries have already ordered a billion doses of the vaccine. 

While experts have not dismissed the possibility that ‘Sputnik V’ is effective, scientists say there is ‘little detail’ on the vaccine and warn that it is ‘not possible to know’ whether it works without proper data. 

Prof Francois Balloux, a biologist at University College London, slammed Putin’s move as ‘reckless and foolish’ and said that ‘vaccination with an improperly tested vaccine is unethical’. 

‘Any problem with the Russian vaccination campaign would be disastrous both through its negative effects on health, but also because it would further set back the acceptance of vaccines in the population,’ he warned.  

Lockdown may have killed more UK children than coronavirus

Lockdown restrictions likely killed more children than coronavirus itself because ‘Stay at Home’ messaging deterred parents from taking them to hospital, leading experts warn

  • Brit paediatricians identified nine children who died of cancer or sepsis by May
  • That is higher than the total number of children who had died of Covid-19 at time
  • Health bosses admit parents too scared to come to hospital at height of crisis 

Lockdown restrictions are likely to have killed more children than the virus itself, experts warn.

British paediatricians have identified nine children who died of cancer or sepsis by the end of April after coming too late to hospital to receive effective treatment.

That is higher than the total number of children who had died of Covid-19 across the UK by that point.

Even health bosses admit parents were probably late to bring their children to hospital because they were heeding the Government’s ‘Stay at Home’ message.

These worrying statistics – highlighted in an opinion piece by leading health officials, paediatricians and governmental advisors in the British Medical Journal – are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Lockdown restrictions are likely to have killed more children than the virus itself, experts warn (file)

‘Children with critical illnesses were not accessing health services on time and, therefore, suffering potentially avoidable harm,’ they write.

Diabetes specialists also say they have seen delayed presentations among child patients.

Even child A&E admissions fell by half during lockdown as parents with badly injured children stayed away.

STAY AT HOME MESSAGING ‘LED TO SPIKE IN HEART ATTACKS’

Deaths from the most common type of heart attack soared by almost 40 per cent during the coronavirus lockdown, according to research. 

Analysis by University of Leeds experts found hospital admissions for heart attacks plummeted by 50 per cent in April and May in England.

The data also suggested that deaths rose from the most mild form of heart attack, which is usually treatable if patients are given quick medical attention.

Scientists behind the study say lots of very ill people appear to have been reluctant to seek help despite suffering life-threatening symptoms.  

This may have been an unintended consequence of the government’s ‘Stay at Home’ messaging, according to lead author of the study, statistician Dr Jianhua Wu.

Some patients will have been too scared to go to hospital in case they got the virus, while others wouldn’t have wanted to be a burden on the health service. 

Experts estimated around 2,000 fewer patients were treated for heart attacks during lockdown — despite them being classed as a medical emergency by the NHS. 

The UK locked down on March 23 to try to bring the exponentially growing epidemic under control.

Ministers were praised for their simple and effective slogan, ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’. 

But independent scientists reacting to the findings today said No 10 should learn to be ‘more nuanced’ in its communications in future.  

And the toll of lockdown is likely to rise for years to come, with many parents avoiding vital vaccination appointments for fear of exposing their children to the virus.

This raises ‘concerns of future outbreaks’ of measles, mumps and rubella in particular, the experts write.

School closures will also have impact on mental health and social skills for ‘many years after enforced isolation’, they write.

The six authors – who include SAGE members Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at Public Health England, and Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health – point out that the risk to children from coronavirus itself has been minimal.

‘Children and young people … account for only 1 to 3 per cent of Covid-19 cases, with only 5 per cent of those tested developing severe or critical disease, and very few deaths reported worldwide,’ they write.

Unlike flu – for which toddlers in particular are viewed as ‘superspreaders’ – coronavirus does not seem to even be passed on by children.

‘There is accumulating evidence from household transmission studies and outbreak investigations in educational settings that children do not contribute significantly to community transmission,’ they write.

School closures may not have even had an impact on infection rates, suggesting that fears of a second wave triggered by their reopening in September may be unfounded.

‘There is currently no evidence to support a major role for children in SARS-CoV-2 transmission within the household, community or educational settings, with studies reporting little to no impact of school closures predicted for transmission or death due to Covid-19.’

The writers concede that restrictions have reduced the exposure of children to the virus – and have also driven down rates of other gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.

But they add: ‘These benefits, however, are overshadowed by the negative consequences of the lockdown.’

They point to the findings of a survey of more than 4,000 paediatricians through the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit, carried out in late April.

The authors write: ‘In the BPSU survey, the reasons for the delayed presentations included parents strictly adhering to the “Stay at Home” messaging by the Government, as well as parental concerns about getting infected in hospital and not wanting to disturb doctors during the pandemic.’

Thunderstorm warnings across UK as nation braces for flash flooding, but sun continues elsewhere

Thunderstorm warnings continue for most of the UK today as parts of the country prepare for flash floodings and up to six inches of rain to fall in a matter of hours – but the South and parts of northern England are set to bask in sunshine where temperatures could reach highs of 96F in London.

Downpours are being predicted for parts of North Wales and the West Midlands, while an amber warning for storms has been issued for the area of Scotland between Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen – alerting Scots to the possibility of flash flooding, damage from lightning strikes and hailstones.

Delays to public transport, difficult driving conditions and possible road closures could also follow, while deep and fast floodwater could be a threat to human life. 

A less serious yellow warning remains in place for most of England and other parts of Scotland, the caution is its penultimate day and will end tomorrow. 

Under its yellow warning, the Met Office is predicting storms in particular for the north-west, north Wales and the West Midlands for Wednesday and Thursday.

Chief meteorologist Steve Ramsdale said in these areas ‘exceptional rainfall totals could be seen of 60 millimetres in an hour with a very small chance of 150 millimetres of rainfall in three or four hours’. 

Huge thunderstorms and heavy rain hit parts of Scotland overnight, with Edinburgh and Falkrik both waking up to floodwater today. 

Scorching temperatures in the South had families and visitors packing on to Bournemouth beach yesterday, with Britain's heatwave expected to continue today

Scorching temperatures in the South had families and visitors packing on to Bournemouth beach yesterday, with Britain’s heatwave expected to continue today 

The Environment Agency has five flood alerts posted for possible flooding in areas around Birmingham, while 17 flood alerts remain current across Scotland. 

England’s heatwave is set to continue, with London expecting a top temperature today of 96F, which is also forecast for other areas including Cambridge, Yeovil and Southampton.

It will also be warm further north, with Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham expecting 87F degrees, as is Birmingham and Cardiff.

Temperatures reached highs of 96F at Heathrow yesterday, should the mercury reach higher than 93F today, it would confirm the country’s most severe heatwave ever as a Met Office level three heat health alert remains in place. 

Ten properties in Lancashire were affected by flooding on Tuesday following overnight storms, the Environment Agency said.

Wednesday's average temperatures across Britain

Southern and eastern parts of England are set to be the hottest parts of the country today, with chances of storms elsewhere

Southern and eastern parts of England are set to be the hottest parts of the country today, with chances of storms elsewhere

Thursday's forecast from the Met Office

Friday's forecast from the Met Office

Britain’s heatwave is expected to ease off tomorrow (left) and Friday (right) with breezier and cloudier weather set to come

The rainfall caused the Burrow Beck waterway in Scotforth, south Lancaster, to rise by almost a metre in less than three hours, the agency’s flood risk manager Andy Brown said.

The Environment Agency said further heavy showers could cause more flooding in ‘mostly urban areas’ of England until Friday, with some homes being affected.

Following another tropical evening, the Met Office is predicting ‘another very warm night,’ later, with thunderstorms predicted across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and southern parts of Scotland.

By tomorrow Britain’s heatwave could start to ease off for large swathes of the country.

The Met Office is predicting: ‘Still hot in the south but less so for many, particularly in the east. Breezier and cloudier in northern parts. Areas of thundery rain over the south during the day.

Heading into the weekend it is expected to remain warm, but cloudy in the South with some showers and thunderstorms. 

Lightning strikes near Blackpool Tower in Lancashire in the early hours of Tuesday morning during intense thunderstorms

Lightning strikes near Blackpool Tower in Lancashire in the early hours of Tuesday morning during intense thunderstorms 

At least six people, including a 12-year-old girl, have died off Britain’s coasts during the 11-day heatwave.

Over the last two days lifeboat crews in Sussex pulled two bodies from the water, both of whom are being connected to a dinghy containing a shopping trolley was found washed up in Lancing, West Sussex on Monday morning.

On the same day, a man in his 60s was declared dead after being pulled out of the sea in Clacton.

Only hours earlier, a woman died after believed to have been caught in strong current off the Norfolk coast.

The woman, in her 30s, was seen struggling off the shore of Waxham at around 5:30pm on Sunday before her lifeless body was pulled from the water. 

A 12-year-old schoolgirl was found dead in a Scottish river on Sunday night after her disappearance prompted a large-scale rescue operation.

The victim, named as Ava Gray, was described as an ‘angel’ by her heartbroken dancing teacher.

The schoolgirl was discovered in the River Leven, near Loch Lomond, three hours after a search was launched involving two rescue helicopters, rescue boats and police underwater search team. 

The series of tragedies came after a woman died in a crash between a jet ski and a boat on the Menai Strait in North Wales.

Backlash over Government plans to give pupils ‘triple lock’ on grades

Fears grew today over a generation of children receiving over-optimistic exam results after the decision to give them a ‘triple lock’ on their A-level and GCSE grades.

The 11th hour move will allow pupils to opt for the grades they got in their mock exams was today blasted by union leads as an idea that ‘beggars belief’.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson last night ripped up the system just 36 hours before A-level results are released in the wake of the Scottish exams fiasco.

It means A-level students can choose between the marks they get awarded tomorrow – which are based on teacher assessments and a computer-generated ‘standardisation’ model – or their mock results.

If they are not happy with either of those, they can sit the exam in the autumn, with the Government covering the cost for schools.

But research by University College London released yesterday showed that up to 74 per cent of predicted grades are an overestimate of exam performance.

The study by UCL’s Institute of Education also showed 80 per cent of teacher predictions of A-level outcomes from a previous year were inaccurate.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned that the new plan created potential for ‘massive inconsistency’. 

A-level students receiving their results tomorrow will now be able to opt for the grades they got in their mock exams. (Stock image)

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has been forced to offer an unprecedented 'triple lock' in the wake of the Scottish exams fiasco

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has been forced to offer an unprecedented ‘triple lock’ in the wake of the Scottish exams fiasco

He added that this was because mock exams were not standardised and some students may not have taken them before schools closed in March.

Mr Barton said: ‘The idea of introducing at the eleventh hour a system in which mock exam results trump calculated grades beggars belief.

Home-school pupils are left in limbo

Home-schooled children face having their lives put on hold because they were ‘forgotten’ during lockdown, a senior Tory MP warned yesterday.

Students studying for A-levels and GCSEs privately will miss out on grades this week after exams were cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

They may be able to sit papers in the autumn but this will be too late for university and sixth-form college applications.

Unlike students in schools and colleges, they didn’t have teachers who could submit ‘assessed grades’ to exam boards.

Tory MP Robert Halfon, who chairs the education select committee, said: ‘It’s looking pretty bleak for these children. It just seems these kids have been forgotten about during lockdown.’

Hannah Titley, of the Home Schooling Association, said private candidates had been ‘unfairly disadvantaged’. 

The number of home-schooled children soared by 15 per cent last year – from 52,770 to 60,544 in a 12-month period.

‘The Government doesn’t appear to understand how mock exams work. They aren’t a set of exams which all conform to the same standards. The clue is in the name ‘mock’.

‘Schools and colleges have spent months diligently following detailed guidance to produce centre-assessed grades only to find they might as well not have bothered.

‘If the government wanted to change the system it should have spent at least a few days discussing the options rather than rushing out a panicked and chaotic response.’

He also  told BBC Breakfast today: ‘I think perhaps in response to what’s happened in Scotland, what the Government is saying is we need to give another form of appeal to young people. 

‘And if what that means is they can say ‘point to my mock results, that shows I am better than my final results’.

‘So long as that’s not automatically guaranteeing that they’re going to get that result, which I think just adds another inequality, then I can understand the thinking there – and I suspect it’s a Government wanting to show that it too, like the Government in Scotland, is being sympathetic to children and young people in unprecedented times.’

Meanwhile it was suggested middle-ranking students could face a ‘lottery’ of grades after exams were cancelled this summer.

There are warnings that similar students could get ‘very different’ A-level grades, which may have a ‘considerable bearing’ on their opportunities.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham said: ‘While teachers will generally have a clear idea of the top performers and those who struggle the most, they will be hard-pressed to distinguish those in the middle.’

And Jo Grady, general secretary of University and College Union (UCU), said: ‘The rest of the UK must now ensure that no student misses out because of a flawed system of awarding marks.’

This week Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured during a visit to St Joseph's Catholic School in Upminster, London) insisted the country had a ‘moral duty’ to reopen schools next month

This week Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured during a visit to St Joseph’s Catholic School in Upminster, London) insisted the country had a ‘moral duty’ to reopen schools next month

Mr Williamson was forced to offer the unprecedented ‘triple lock’, which will also apply to GCSE pupils, after Nicola Sturgeon performed a U-turn on Scotland’s exam results.

Study to be a nurse, NHS tells students

 Pupils who fail to make the grade will be targeted by NHS chiefs to plug nursing shortages.

Health bosses are looking to cash in on the record numbers of students expected to go through clearing by offering more places on nursing degrees. 

They will send direct emails to 50,000 people and post ads on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, appealing to those entering the clearing system to apply for nursing courses.

Officials hope the stability of NHS careers will appeal to the ‘Covid Generation’ – those who are likely to suffer long-term consequences from the pandemic.

Nursing course applications have already surged by 16 per cent this year to more than 47,000 by the end of June. Much of the increase is attributed to the leading role nurses have played in the country’s response to coronavirus.

England’s top nurse, Ruth May, said the We Are The NHS campaign wanted to harness the institution’s rising popularity by appealing to the next generation of healthcare staff.

 

Last week, Scottish pupils sitting the equivalent of A-levels received their computer-moderated grades under a similar system to that being used in the rest of the UK.

However, 125,000 results – about one in four – were downgraded from what teachers had predicted, leading to an outcry and complaints that disadvantaged pupils had been hardest hit. 

Speaking about the UCL study on predicted grades, Professor Lindsey Macmillan said yesterday: ‘This research raises the question of why we use predicted grades at such a crucial part of our education system.

‘This isn’t teachers’ fault – it’s a near-impossible task. Most worryingly, there are implications for equity, as pupils in comprehensives are harder to predict.

‘Our work shows that these pupils have more noisy trajectories from GCSE to A level. If you’re a straight-A student at a grammar or private school, you’re more likely to continue that to A levels.

‘But this research is telling us there’s a lot more movement around the grades between the two exam levels for comprehensive students.’

Yesterday, the Scottish government opted for a humiliating U-turn and said that despite concerns over grade inflation, all results would now revert to those that teachers had predicted.

Government ministers are thought to be nervous about a similar row erupting in England when A-level results are released tomorrow.

Mr Williamson said England would not allow teachers’ predicted grades to stand, because it would lead to unacceptable grade inflation from the previous year. 

He insisted his new system would ensure pupils received the ‘fairest results possible’ after the summer exams were cancelled due to the pandemic.

The last-minute change will lead to further accusations that the Government has not got a grip of yet another aspect of the crisis, following failures over care homes, schools, testing, travel and the provision of PPE to NHS staff.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the construction site of Hereford County Hospital in Herefordshire

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the construction site of Hereford County Hospital in Herefordshire

Mr Williamson said: ‘Every young person waiting for their results wants to know that they have been treated fairly. 

Students could face a ‘lottery’ of A-level grades after exams were cancelled

Middle-ranking students could face a ‘lottery’ of grades after exams were cancelled this summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been suggested.

There are warnings that similar students could get ‘very different’ A-level grades, which may have a ‘considerable bearing’ on their opportunities.

It comes after schools were told to submit the grades they thought each student would have received, alongside a rank order of which pupils they believed would do best within each grade for each subject.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham said: ‘While teachers will generally have a clear idea of the top performers and those who struggle the most, they will be hard-pressed to distinguish those in the middle.’

But a leader of a headteachers’ union said it was not helpful to describe grading as a ‘lottery’, adding that schools and colleges have provided students with ‘fair and accurate grades’ and rank orders.

Exam boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have moderated the grades submitted by schools and colleges to ensure this year’s results are not significantly higher than previous years.

Ahead of A-level results day tomorrow, Prof Smithers said: ‘While the national grade pattern and that for individual schools and colleges will be similar to that in previous years and thus seem acceptable, individuals’ grades are at considerable risk of being inaccurate and unfair.’ 

However, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘It isn’t helpful to describe grading this year as a ‘lottery’ just as students are waiting for their results, and neither is it true. 

‘By ensuring students have the safety net of their mock results as well as the chance of sitting autumn exams, we are creating a triple-lock process to ensure they can have the confidence to take the next steps forward in work or education.’

Schools will need to demonstrate to exams regulator Ofqual that mocks were taken in exam-like conditions, but the process is expected to be significantly streamlined.

The Government said it would set aside £30 million to fund autumn exams for all schools, easing the burden on budgets already stretched to deal with coronavirus measures.

‘The SNP failed the test, but we have done more revision,’ one government source said.

‘This decision in Scotland was a bad decision. It means that in Scotland there are now students walking round with inflated grades that no one will take seriously.

‘It’s not fair for students this year and it’s not fair for students last year. Our system is fundamentally fairer.’

In Scotland, outrage was prompted by the system resulting in deprived students being treated more than twice as harshly as the best-off.

Fighting for his political career yesterday, SNP education secretary John Swinney said the standardisation would be unwound.

‘We set out to ensure that the system was fair. We set out to ensure it was credible. But we did not get it right for all young people,’ he said. 

Only days earlier, Mr Swinney had justified the exams procedure by revealing that without it, top grades would have surged by up to an unprecedented 14 per cent.

Yesterday’s decision means this inflation will come to pass – and raises questions as to how next year’s students will be treated, and whether last year’s pupils will protest.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said: ‘They have gone for the most generous option they could have gone for.

‘But the decision results in a whole load of questions about whether other exams were fair – for the people that took exams last year and the ones who will take exams next year. 

Anyone who thinks this announcement removes any unfairness is plain wrong. In fact, it introduced new unfairnesses for other people.’

Despite the concerns, government critics lined up to demand a similar about-turn in England.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Government risked ‘robbing a generation of young people of their future’ unless the grading system in England was also abandoned.

National Union of Students president Larissa Kennedy agreed ‘the UK Government should follow the lead of Scotland by scrapping moderated grades’.  

Scottish exam chiefs are accused of ‘tarnishing’ their relationship with teachers amid country’s grading fiasco

By Rachel Watson, Deputy Scottish Political Editor for the Daily Mail

Exam chiefs have ‘tarnished’ their relationship with teachers following the fiasco over grades, according to union bosses.

They accused the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) of failing to listen to serious concerns raised by the profession ahead of the publication of pupil grades last week.

Finally there is justice and I can pursue my chosen career 

Olivia Biggart, right, achieved all As in her Higher prelims and expected to achieve the same in the final results.

The 16-year-old, from Motherwell, Lanarkshire, has also been studying for the University Clinical Aptitude Test (Ucat) so that she could study medicine. The SQA downgraded her results to two As and three Bs.

Olivia believed this happened because her school is in a deprived area. She will now be able to apply for medical school in October.

Yesterday, she spoke of her relief at the news teachers’ grades will now be recognised. She told The BBC: ‘I am over the moon because finally there is justice and I can pursue my career. I am happy with what he said – and glad he apologised to us.’

She added: ‘The only thing I didn’t like is that students who were over-graded will keep their results but that will all even out over time.

‘But overall I am happy. I don’t think [John Swinney] had many options. They couldn’t reassess every single candidate’s results. My dream to become a doctor is still alive.’

Following John Swinney’s dramatic U-turn, unions and teachers yesterday launched a blistering attack on those behind the original decision to downgrade pupils’ results based on their school’s previous performance.

Teaching union the Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS) and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) led the criticism, warning that the row and failure to recognise students as individuals had caused additional stress and upset for thousands during an already uncertain time.

They also branded the Education Secretary’s claims that exams are due to go ahead as planned in 2021 as ‘woefully complacent’.

Following the cancellation of exams, teachers had been asked to submit a grade for each pupil based on their performance over the year and in prelims and to rank students in order.

Their decisions were then ‘moderated’ by the SQA.

But the process sparked outrage after almost 125,000 grades were overturned by SQA bosses.

Yesterday, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the nation’s teachers had been ‘extremely diligent’ in making professional judgments on pupil grades, claiming that they ‘even went the extra mile asked of them by the SQA in subdividing bandings and rankings’ for youngsters, despite their ‘concerns’ over the process.

He said the EIS had warned that ‘overturning these estimates’ using statistical modelling from previous years ‘would lead to an outcry – exactly what has happened’.

Mr Flanagan hit out at the lack of engagement between the SQA and teachers – claiming that bosses ‘refused’ to hold professional dialogue with the profession.

He added: ‘Its standing amongst teachers is undoubtedly tarnished by its role in these matters.’

Mr Flanagan believes the SQA needs to be ‘more accountable to the teaching profession, parents and pupils’ rather than the Scottish Government and ministers must address how the exam system ‘regularly fails children through operating notional quotas’.

The union chief warned that a contingency plan should be in place in case exams are cancelled again next year.

They should have listened to our teachers 

Frangag NicDhòmhnaill, 16, from Acharacle, Argyll, a fifth-year student at Ardnamurchan High School, had expected five Higher As but received two As and three Bs. She had achieved four As and a B in her prelims.

Frangag, right, said: ‘I’m really happy with the announcement today. Hopefully I will now get what I got in my prelims.

‘It’s good they are going to review the results that were downgraded but I think they should also review those that were upgraded.

‘I’m hoping I will get straight As which will allow me to apply to study veterinary medicine at university.

‘I’m hoping I will find out about my grades soon. They should have gone with the teachers’ estimates in the first place.

‘The teachers are professionals, they should have listened to them.’

Mr Flanagan said: ‘The current planning for next year’s exam diet on the basis of business as usual seems woefully complacent. Scotland’s young people and their teachers must not suffer the same fiasco again.’

Mr Flanagan’s anger was echoed by Rozanne Foyer, general secretary of the STUC.

She said: ‘There was never going to be a perfect solution given the crisis we were in, but further disadvantaging young working-class people at this time of multiple stress and uncertainty would have been a crime.’

Miss Foyer accused the SQA of having a ‘lack of faith in the judgment of teachers’ and said the downgrading of pupils was ‘totally unacceptable’.

She said: ‘Teachers were tasked to use their judgment and professionalism to predict young people’s grades.

‘A timely and robust process was followed by schools to ensure they got it right for the young people in their care and that no young person would be disadvantaged as a result of exam cancellations.

‘The wholesale downgrading of pupils and lack of faith in the judgment of teachers – who know their pupils best – because of the schools in question was totally unacceptable.’

The deadline for urgent appeals to be made – for youngsters hoping to go to university – was set for August 14, sparking a rush among teachers to speak to pupils and their families ahead of submitting their grades for a review.

Dorothy MacGinty, headmistress of the independent Kilgraston School, near Perth, said the SQA’s moderation process had led to stress and ‘avoidable unhappiness’ for families across Scotland.

She said: ‘The SQA took a whole tranche of results, especially in English and maths, and downgraded them at Higher level.

‘This caused a huge level of unnecessary stress for pupils and a vast amount of work for teachers this week coming in and working through hundreds of pages of work to appeal.

‘Of course, it’s good that we’ve got the decision turned around but this has caused a huge amount of avoidable unhappiness.’

Speaking to the BBC, Kathryn Neil, an art and photography teacher in Angus, said she was ‘so tearful and so happy’ at the U-turn. She said: ‘It means the world to us. It means the world to them.

It was never a fair way to judge us 

Drew Skinner, 17, a pupil at St Mungo’s Academy in Glasgow, wrote a damning, now viral, letter to Education Secretary John Swinney after her grades were lowered by the SQA.

Instead of the expected two As and three Bs for her Highers, she received an A, B and three Cs. Following Mr Swinney’s announcement yesterday, Drew, right, from Dennistoun, Glasgow, spoke of her relief.

She said: ‘It was absolutely amazing. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I felt like all I had been reading was rumours about what he might say.

‘It was a shock. A few days ago they were still stubborn in what they were saying. I’m relieved.

‘There was a big difference between what I was predicted to get and what the SQA awarded me. Hopefully I will get the results I was predicted now.

‘A week between the results coming out and this announcement can be seen as a short or a long time. They say the results should be out for August 21. People will get the results in time for university.

‘I don’t think it was ever fair to have judged people’s academic ability based on where they live.’

 

‘We know how hard they’ve worked. We know the grade they deserve. We’ve done our job, we’ve got them their grades and that’s what they deserve.’

Although happy with the U-turn, campaigners have claimed it was motivated by fears over the consequences of the fiasco rather than concern for individual youngsters.

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said the Deputy First Minister’s statement had provided ‘clarification’.

She added: ‘We are pleased that the Scottish Government will ensure there are enough places at colleges to enable young people to continue on to further and higher education courses.

‘Colleges will continue to do everything possible to support students with aspirations of coming to college, and we look forward to welcoming all new and returning students back to campuses when the new term starts.

‘We acknowledge the difficulties that the global pandemic has presented us all with, however, colleges have been working hard to ensure that they can continue delivering high-quality learning and teaching safely.’

Erin Bleakley, 17, who organised a protest of around 100 pupils in George Square, Glasgow, over how results were reached, said: ‘I did not think this day would come.’

The teenager, who attends St Andrew’s High School in the east end of the city, previously said she ‘crumbled’ when four of her six results were downgraded.

After the U-turn, she said: ‘I think we would all like to say a generous thank-you for not only the apology but the results being reverted back to teacher estimates.’

Joel Meekison, from the SQA: Where’s Our Say campaign, said: ‘I don’t think that it was problems over what people achieved that made John Swinney stand up and change it.

‘I think it was anger and danger over the exam system being perceived as penalising marginalised groups and penalising the most vulnerable and deprived areas.’

A spokesman for the SQA said it acknowledged the strength of feeling ‘among individual learners, their parents and carers – and among wider colleagues in the education system’.

UK OFFICIALLY in recession after plunging by shocking 20.4%

Rishi Sunak warns of looming jobs catastrophe as UK economy OFFICIALLY goes into recession after plunging a shocking 20.4% at height of coronavirus outbreak – wiping out 17 YEARS of GDP growth

  • The UK has officially entered recession after second quarter of contraction
  • GDP was down 20.4 per cent in the three month to June at height of Covid crisis
  • The economy did bounce back to an extent in June with 8.7 per cent growth 

Rishi Sunak warned of a looming jobs catastrophe today as it was revealed the British economy plunged by more than a fifth at the height of the coronavirus outbreak.

Figures showed UK plc shrank by a shocking 20.4 per cent in the three months to June, the biggest fall in modern history, with record reductions in construction, services and production. 

The news means the country is officially in recession, which is defined by two consecutive negative quarters. 

The economy dipped 2.2 per cent in the first three months of the year, and is now smaller than it has been since 2003. 

However, there was a glimmer of hope with the single month GDP figure for June bouncing back by 8.7 per cent as lockdown restrictions eased.

The Chancellor said the tumble showed that ‘hard times are here’ and warned many more jobs will be lost.

‘I’ve said before that hard times were ahead, and today’s figures confirm that hard times are here,’ he said. 

‘Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months many more will.

‘But while there are difficult choices to be made ahead, we will get through this, and I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity.’ 

Boris Johnson has already warned that the country is in for a ‘bumpy’ ride, but insisted the government is ready to make ‘colossal’ investments in the future. 

Official figures showed UK plc shrank by 20.4 per cent in the three months to June

The Office for National Statistics said the UK had been harder hit in the first half of the year than many other economies

The Office for National Statistics said the UK had been harder hit in the first half of the year than many other economies

Office for National Statistics spokesman Jonathan Athow said: ‘The recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led to the biggest fall in quarterly GDP on record.

‘The economy began to bounce back in June with shops reopening, factories beginning to ramp up production and housebuilding continuing to recover. Despite this, GDP in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.

‘Overall, productivity saw its largest fall in the second quarter since the three-day week. Hospitality was worst hit, with productivity in that industry falling by three quarters in recent months.’  

The plummet is roughly in line with the Bank of England’s predictions. 

The grim picture emerged after figures yesterday showed that the number of people on company payrolls had fallen by 730,000 since lockdown –  with employment seeing the biggest drop in a decade. 

In the three months to June, the number in work decreased by 220,000 – the largest quarterly slump since 2009. Total hours worked slumped by a fifth over the quarter to the lowest level since 1994.

Meanwhile, the numbers on payroll tumbled another 114,000 in July, as the claimant count – which includes some people who are in work – increased again to reach 2.7million. 

Underlining the misery, store chain Debenhams has announced that it is cutting 2,500 roles. 

However, analysts warned the grim news is the tip of the iceberg, as the full effects of lockdown have so far been masked by the government’s massive support schemes. 

Some 9.6million jobs have been furloughed, with the Treasury paying out £33.8billion in subsidies. 

Many people appear to have chosen to stay economically ‘inactive’ rather than hunt for work – meaning they remain outside the headline unemployment figures.

The Bank of England’s latest forecast says the economy will shrink by 9.5 per cent this year, making it the worst downturn in a century, and unemployment will rise by a million. 

GDP figures show UK has entered a technical recession - with two consecutive quarters of contraction. The Bank of England predicts that the downturn will be the worst in a hundred years (chart pictured)

GDP figures show UK has entered a technical recession – with two consecutive quarters of contraction. The Bank of England predicts that the downturn will be the worst in a hundred years (chart pictured)

UK OFFICIALLY in recession after plunging by shocking 20.4%

Rishi Sunak warns of looming jobs catastrophe as UK economy OFFICIALLY goes into recession after plunging a shocking 20.4% at height of coronavirus outbreak – wiping out 17 YEARS of GDP growth

  • The UK has officially entered recession after second quarter of contraction
  • GDP was down 20.4 per cent in the three month to June at height of Covid crisis
  • The economy did bounce back to an extent in June with 8.7 per cent growth 

Rishi Sunak warned of a looming jobs catastrophe today as it was revealed the British economy plunged by more than a fifth at the height of the coronavirus outbreak.

Figures showed UK plc shrank by a shocking 20.4 per cent in the three months to June, the biggest fall in modern history, with record reductions in construction, services and production. 

The news means the country is officially in recession, which is defined by two consecutive negative quarters. 

The economy dipped 2.2 per cent in the first three months of the year, and is now smaller than it has been since 2003. 

However, there was a glimmer of hope as the single month GDP figure for June bounced back by 8.7 per cent.

The Chancellor said the tumble showed that ‘hard times are here’ and warned many more jobs will be lost.

‘I’ve said before that hard times were ahead, and today’s figures confirm that hard times are here,’ he said. 

‘Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months many more will.

‘But while there are difficult choices to be made ahead, we will get through this, and I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity.’ 

Boris Johnson has already warned that the country is in for a ‘bumpy’ ride, but insisted the government is ready to make ‘colossal’ investments in the future. 

Official figures showed UK plc shrank by 20.4 per cent in the three months to June

The Office for National Statistics said the UK had been harder hit in the first half of the year than many other economies

The Office for National Statistics said the UK had been harder hit in the first half of the year than many other economies

Office for National Statistics spokesman Jonathan Athow said: ‘The recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led to the biggest fall in quarterly GDP on record.

‘The economy began to bounce back in June with shops reopening, factories beginning to ramp up production and housebuilding continuing to recover. Despite this, GDP in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.

‘Overall, productivity saw its largest fall in the second quarter since the three-day week. Hospitality was worst hit, with productivity in that industry falling by three quarters in recent months.’  

The plummet is roughly in line with the Bank of England’s predictions. 

The grim picture emerged after figures yesterday showed that the number of people on company payrolls had fallen by 730,000 since lockdown –  with employment seeing the biggest drop in a decade. 

In the three months to June, the number in work decreased by 220,000 – the largest quarterly slump since 2009. Total hours worked slumped by a fifth over the quarter to the lowest level since 1994.

Meanwhile, the numbers on payroll tumbled another 114,000 in July, as the claimant count – which includes some people who are in work – increased again to reach 2.7million. 

Underlining the misery, store chain Debenhams has announced that it is cutting 2,500 roles. 

However, analysts warned the grim news is the tip of the iceberg, as the full effects of lockdown have so far been masked by the government’s massive support schemes. 

Some 9.6million jobs have been furloughed, with the Treasury paying out £33.8billion in subsidies. 

Many people appear to have chosen to stay economically ‘inactive’ rather than hunt for work – meaning they remain outside the headline unemployment figures.

The Bank of England’s latest forecast says the economy will shrink by 9.5 per cent this year, making it the worst downturn in a century, and unemployment will rise by a million. 

GDP figures show UK has entered a technical recession - with two consecutive quarters of contraction. The Bank of England predicts that the downturn will be the worst in a hundred years (chart pictured)

GDP figures show UK has entered a technical recession – with two consecutive quarters of contraction. The Bank of England predicts that the downturn will be the worst in a hundred years (chart pictured)