Lower interest rates will be a comfort to Mr. Sunak. For one, lower rates will shrink the amount of money the Treasury will need to set aside for interest rate payments, which could ease spending cuts and tax increases. But there are other reminders of the economic difficulties Britain faces.
On Monday, a measure of economic activity in Britain dropped, as the services industry posted its worst monthly decline since January 2021, according to the Purchasing Managers’ Index which measures economic trends. The index for both services and manufacturing activity fell to 47.2 points. A reading below 50 means a contraction in activity.
The data showed that the pace of economic decline was gathering momentum, said Chris Williamson, an economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.
And on Friday, the credit ratings agency Moody’s changed its outlook on Britain to negative, from stable, while reaffirming the country’s current Aa3 investment grade rating. A lower credit rating tends to lead to higher government borrowing costs.
Moody’s said the outlook was changed to negative because of the “heightened unpredictability in policymaking amid weaker growth prospects and high inflation.” There was also a risk that increased borrowing would challenge Britain’s debt affordability, especially if there was a “sustained weakening in policy credibility.”
These are just the latest in a laundry list of the government’s economic concerns. They include supporting low-income households against the rising cost of living, encouraging investment to improve weak productivity growth, smoothing Britain’s trading relationship with the European Union and growing the labor market to ensure businesses can find people with the right skills.
“We need a clear long-term vision of how the new prime minister will deal with the challenges ahead,” Shevaun Haviland, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said in a statement, “and create the business conditions that allow firms, and the communities that rely on them, to thrive.”