BUSINESS owners have been warned the economy will “get worse before it gets better” in a gloomy forecast by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Rishi Sunak made the grim statement during a speech in the House of Commons yesterday outlining his economic plan for the coming weeks.

He said he can’t protect every job and business; in Bradford 1,300 businesses are at risk of going bust and 12,000 workers could be out of jobs, research last month warned.

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.

“Sadly, we have not and will not be able to save every job and every business.

“But I am confident that our economic plan is supporting the finances of millions of people and businesses.

“Across almost all areas of economic policy, we are providing comparable or greater support than all our international peers.

“And as the Office for Budget Responsibility, the Bank of England and the IMF have all recognised, our economic response is making a difference – saving jobs, keeping businesses afloat and supporting people’s incomes.

“While the vaccine provides hope, the economy is going to get worse before it gets better.

“Many people are losing their jobs, businesses are struggling, our public finances have been badly damaged and will need repair.

“The road ahead will be tough. Now, it is time for responsible management of our economy, taking the difficult but right long-term decisions for our country.

“But, I am confident that with this comprehensive support that Government is providing and above all, the determination, enterprise and resilience of the British people, we will get through this.”

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds slammed the Chancellor in her response for being “nowhere to be seen” during last week’s lockdown announcement.

She said: “Today the Chancellor appears out of ideas, urging us to look towards the sunny uplands but providing nothing new.

“The purpose of an update is to provide us with new information not to repeat what we already know.

“Will we have to wait until the Budget for a recognition of all of these problems and solutions to them?

“The people of Britain understand that they have to make sacrifices.

“They’re doing their bit for the national effort, while the vaccine is rolled. They’re fulfilling their side of the bargain. The Chancellor must fulfil his.”

Trevor Higgins, chief executive of Bradford Breakthrough, said he agrees with the Chancellor’s gloomy prediction, but said it is necessary to save lives.

He said: “I’m sure things will get worse, and are likely to have an even more profound impact on the North, and given the length of time we have been in lockdown, the damage has already been done.

“But, with the pressure we are under every chance needs to be taken to save lives so the vaccine can be rolled out.

“It worries me from a business point of view, but everyone needs to take all measures possible to reduce contact to stop this getting out of hand.

“Areas like Bradford need specific support. What’s been given so far is well received but it should have been given earlier and for longer. We’ve been hit the hardest.”