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Britons have limited understanding of broad economic concepts - report

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk on London Bridge with the Shard in the background, in London

LONDON (Reuters) - British people have little understanding of economic concepts such as the budget deficit and GDP and mistrust some data, research shows, potentially hindering the government's messages to the public as it looks towards eventually fixing the public finances.

While people surveyed were fairly well informed about economic measures that affect them directly, such as inflation and interest rates, they had limited knowledge of national issues such as gross domestic product and the deficit.

The report was published on Wednesday by the UK's Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence, comprising research groups.

Britain is on course for a record economic crash this year - the Bank of England forecasts an 11% slump - driven by the pandemic. It also faces further challenges from Brexit.

Once the COVID-19 crisis is over, finance minister Rishi Sunak will need to start fixing the public finances.

According to the report, focus groups identified "a general disillusionment and apathy about the economy and people's ability to influence economic outcomes".

Former Prime Minister David Cameron made a priority of reducing the deficit during his 2010-2016 term, requiring cuts to public services to do so.

Some people surveyed believed that unemployment and inflation data had the potential to be manipulated by the government, and were higher than official figures suggested.

The independent Office for National Statistics publishes those figures.

The report said its aim was to inform future efforts on how to improve communication of economics to the public.

It found that less than half of the British public were able to correctly identify the definition of GDP from a list of options.

(Reporting by Sarah Young and Paul Sandle; Editing by William Schomberg)