UK economic growth slows to 0.3%

The BBC reports that the rate of economic growth halved in the three months to the end of March, official figures show, marking the slowest quarterly growth for two years.

The economy grew by 0.3% in the first quarter the Office for National Statistics said.

That compares with 0.6% in the last three months of 2014 and 0.7% three months earlier.

The figures, which come nine days before the general election, suggest a ‘temporary’ slowdown, analysts said.

The ONS said the economy was 2.4% larger than the same period a year earlier, meaning it remains the fastest growing economy in the G7.

Growth of 0.5% in the services industry was offset by a 1.6% fall in the pace of economic output in construction.

The UK services sector accounts for around three quarters of economic growth, with construction, manufacturing and production accounting for the remaining quarter.

The chancellor, George Osborne, said, ‘It’s good news that the economy has continued to grow, but we have reached a critical moment. Today is a reminder that you can’t take the recovery for granted and the future of our economy is on the ballot paper at this election.’

But Labour shadow chancellor, Ed Balls said, ‘While the Tories have spent months patting themselves on the back these figures show they have not fixed the economy for working families.’

Vicky Redwood chief UK economist at Capital Economics said the figures clearly wouldn’t help the coalition parties with just nine days to go until the general election.

But she added the slowdown in the economy ‘should just be temporary’ and that quarterly economic growth should return to between 0.7% and 0.8% later in the year.