The UK economy grew by just 0.4% in October as the pandemic recovery continued to slow.

The Office for National Statistics said the economy remains well below the size it was before the pandemic began.

The UK has been recovering from a record slump earlier this year induced by the first coronavirus lockdown.

But output is expected to shrink again in November after England’s second shutdown forced firms to close.

The Office for Budget Responsibility does not expect the economy to recover to pre-coronavirus crisis levels until 2022 – or the end of 2023 in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “The UK economy has now grown for six months running but still remains around 8% below its pre-pandemic peak.

“Public services output increased, while car manufacturing continued to recover and retail again grew strongly. However, the reintroduction of some restrictions saw services growth hit, with large falls in hospitality, meaning the economy overall grew only modestly.”

The economy initially rebounded at a record rate, and grew by 10.2% between August and October compared with the previous three months.

But growth has begun to slow – slipping from 1.1% in September – and the economy remains fragile, with unemployment continuing to surge.

Commenting on the October figures, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “I know people are worried about the winter months, but we will continue to support people through our Plan for Jobs to ensure nobody is left without hope or opportunity.”

The British Chamber of Commerce Head of Economics, Suren Thiru said:

“The sharp slowdown in economic output in October reflected the squeeze on activity from the re-introduction of tighter coronavirus restrictions, including the tier system in England. Firms in hospitality, who are most acutely exposed to the renewed restrictions, suffering particularly badly in the month.

“October’s slowdown is likely to be followed by a significant contraction in economic activity in November as the effects of the second coronavirus lockdown are felt, despite the prospect of a temporary boost from Brexit stockpiling.

“While a vaccine offers real hope, failure to avoid a disorderly end to the transition period or further lockdown restrictions before a mass vaccine rollout is achieved would severely drag on any economic recovery.

“Mass testing remains crucial to keeping the economy moving until the Covid-19 vaccine is fully rolled out. Achieving a UK-EU trade deal is critically important to avoid a damaging cliff edge for the UK economy. With time running out, government must work urgently to close the major gaps in the guidance available to help businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period.”