Bank holidays hit the economy by £2bn per day

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SCRAPPING public holidays could add £18 billion to the nation’s annual economic output, according to a think-tank.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said each bank holiday costs the United Kingdom economy in the region of £2bn.

There are nine public holidays in England this year with slight variations in the rest of the UK.

There are five holidays between Easter and June taking in the extra holiday for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Today, Douglas McWilliams, of the CEBR, said: “We have done some maths on this and about 45 per cent of the economy suffers, the offices, the factories, the building sites where people tend not to go to work on Bank Holiday.

“About 15 per cent of the economy, shops, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and visitor attractions, they actually do well out of the Bank Holiday, it’s a mixed thing.”

He said it does not balance out across the sectors.

“The areas that have lost productivity are about three times bigger than the areas that benefit,” he added.

McWilliams said last year’s royal wedding and late Easter set the nation’s economy back.

“I think the worst time was probably last spring when we had a late Easter then we had the royal wedding,” he said.

“And in the end we had five bank holidays in six weeks and business seemed to lose momentum there and never seemed to get it back over the year.

“So I think you can have too many too close together.”

McWilliams said he was not advocating scrapping the holidays but spreading them out.

“I think people would enjoy them a lot more,” he said.

CEBR reported that the average employee in the UK working full time works 1,647 hours a year. The average Korean works 2,191.

Daniel Solomon, an economist for CEBR said: “That’s the equivalent of working nearly 4 more months a year at the British rate. Even the average US worker works more than we do at 1,695 hours a year. Only in the decadent European economy do people work shorter hours than in the UK.”

The think tank added that the tourism sector can get some benefit from additional foreign visitors and consumption might also be boosted by more than on a regular bank holiday as consumers tend to spend money on garden equipment and DIY on the Easter holidays.