The Entrepreneurs’ Forum has described figures released revealing that the UK economy shrank by 2.6 per cent in November as “sobering”.

However, its chief executive Jonathan Lamb stressed that North East entrepreneurs remain optimistic about 2021, as the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccines continues to build.

He said: “There’s no doubt that trading conditions for many businesses are extremely tough and these latest November statistics are sobering, but they reflect the effects that month of England being placed in a second national lockdown.

“It has tested the resilience of North East entrepreneurs, but despite that, and the challenges of the current lockdown, we have found that 2021 is still viewed as the year they get their businesses back on track.

“The UK vaccination programme gives business leaders the confidence to look to a time when restrictions can be relaxed, and the economy once again opens up.

“Nobody knows exactly when that will be, but from our discussions, we know that entrepreneurs are planning for the future to take advantage of the many opportunities that will present themselves.”

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the UK economy shrank by 2.6 percent in November as England was placed in lockdown. This decline followed six months of consecutive growth.

It also reported that the service sector was badly affected, with pubs and hairdressers taking the biggest hit.

The ONS added that many businesses have adjusted to the new working conditions, which has included an increased online presence, together with improvement in some manufacturing and construction activities.

Jonathan added: “It is clear the current lockdown will have further consequences for the economy, but businesses should not be deterred by one monthly economic snapshot.

“Patience is required as the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines continue over the coming weeks and months – but this will instil much-needed confidence in our economy.”