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History shows COVID-19 debt ‘can be coped with’

5th May 2021

There is no need for "emergency measures" to curb national debt right now it's put into context with the rest of UK's economic history, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IAE).

The paper found that the UK has experienced higher levels of debt as a percentage of GDP, which sits at around 100% in May 2021.

Researchers examined periods during and after turmoil and war in British history, including the Napoleonic Wars, the First World War and Second World War, when debt as a percentage of GDP increased to 200% and peaked at 250% in 1947.

The paper commissioned by the right-wing think tank said:

"We do not wish to downplay the seriousness of the scale of the debt. Clearly steps should be taken by the Government to curb spending and behave extra prudently.

"Our central point is that large-scale debt is far from unknown in our economic experience".

Following periods of turmoil, the Government prioritised economic growth, prompting the IEA to add the Government should not raise taxes, but encourage growth by simplifying them and removing "unnecessary regulation".

Spring Budget 2021 saw a scheduled rise in corporation tax to 25% from 2023 and a cut in day-to-day Government spending by £4 billion.

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