Reopening schools to deliver £70bn boost

The reopening of schools will deliver a 'substantial' bounce worth around 3.3pc of GDP over the next year, according to the CEBR

School children
Schools are set to reopen in England Credit: KIM LUDBROOK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The full reopening of schools in England this week is set to deliver a £70bn fillip to the economy as parents are freed up and productivity rises, the Centre for Economics and Business Research has said.

The majority of England’s 8.9m pupils have been at home since schools were shut on March 20 in the early stages of the coronavirus crisis, in contrast with countries such as Germany and France. But the economic forecaster estimates that the reopening will deliver a “substantial” bounce worth around 3.3pc of GDP over the next year.

“There will be people who are able to get to work who previously couldn’t get to work, and secondly there will be rising productivity of people at home who are no longer having to juggle childcare with work,” Doug McWilliams, CEBR chief executive, said.

The consultant estimates a 2.2 percentage point lift to growth from a full reopening of an education sector which accounts for 6pc of the economy.

A further 1.1pc boost comes from the 61pc of parents whose ability to work from home has been impaired by childcare, according to Office for National Statistics data, as well as increased spending by those returning to the office.

“Time use data indicates that actual reduction in working hours during lockdown as a result of home schooling for those doing jobs has been about 5pc,” Mr McWilliams added.

The forecasts come as the Government launches a campaign to get the nation’s white-collar workers back into offices this week amid fears that city centres could become “ghost towns”.

But Anna Vignoles, a University of Cambridge professor and co-author of recent Royal Society research on reopening schools, has warned other parts of the economy may have to be shut down to keep them open.

She said that increasing infections could mean “you close down bits of activity proactively”.

Prof Vignoles added: “You can imagine a scenario where the kids are going to school and we shut the pubs, for ­example.”