Belfast Telegraph

Bank holidays are costing the economy £18bn per year

By John Fahey

Scrapping public holidays could add £18bn to the nation's annual economic output, according to a think-tank.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research said that 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.

Douglas McWilliams, of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, told BBC Breakfast yesterday: "We have done some maths on this and about 45% of the economy suffers - the offices, the factories, the building sites where people tend not to go to work on bank holiday.

"About 15% of the economy - shops, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and visitor attractions - actually do well out of the bank holiday; it's a mixed thing."

But he added that 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 said.

Mr McWilliams also stated that last year's royal wedding and late Easter had set the nation's economy back. "I think the worst time was probably last spring when we had a late Easter and 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 then and never seemed to get it back over the year.

"So I think you can have too many too close together."

Mr McWilliams said that he was not advocating scrapping the holidays, but instead advocated spreading them out.

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