The UK economy avoided falling back into recession after official figures revealed a growth of 0.3 per cent in the first three months of the year.
The first estimate from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) was boosted by strong growth in the services sector and a recovery in North Sea production.
The figures reveal that the UK avoided a technical recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth – following a contraction of 0.3 per cent in the final free months of 2012.
Negative growth in Q1 of 2013 would have taken the UK into its third technical recession since the 2008 crash.
Talking to the BBC, Chancellor George Osborne said the figures were an ‘encouraging sign’ that the economy is healing.
However, the ONS said that UK GDP growth had been ‘broadly flat’ over the last 18 months.
Economists had warned that this year’s seasonally cold weather would affect consumer spending, however the ONS said that it had had a ‘limited impact on GDP growth.’
Last week, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, expressed renewed concern over the health of the UK economy.
The UK economy in brief, according to ONS figures:
– Before the sharp fall in output in 2008 and 2009 the economy peaked in Q1 2008 at; the lowest level was in Q2 2009
– GDP fell 6.3 per cent peak to trough
– In Q1 2013 it was estimated that GDP was 2.6 per cent below the peak in Q1 2008.