UK economy defies pessimists with rebound
Official figures showed the UK economy grew by 0.3% January, reversing a 0.5% fall in December and defying expectations that it would shrink.
The Office for National Statistics said the biggest contributions to growth in January came from a bounce back in many sectors including education, transport, entertainment and recreation.
The Bank of England and OECD had forecast that the UK will enter recession in 2023, but more recent forecasts suggest recession will be avoided.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “In the face of severe global challenges, the UK economy has proved more resilient than many expected, but there is a long way to go.
“Next week, I will set out the next stage of our plan to halve inflation, reduce debt and grow the economy – so we can improve living standards for everyone.’’
Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, who will be in Glasgow today with party leader Sir Keir Starmer, said: “Today’s results show our economy is still inching along this Tory path of managed decline.
“People will be asking themselves whether they feel better off under the Tories, and the answer will be no.
“But this is not a new trend. 13 years of Tory failure and wasted opportunities have left growth on the floor and our economy weakened.”
Ben Jones, CBI lead economist, said: “The slight rebound in growth at the start of the year wasn’t altogether surprising, given the sharp drop in December.
“But activity is likely to be subdued in the near-term, given the headwinds of high inflation, still-high energy prices and rising interest rates. However, sentiment is improving, and business leaders are hopeful of a more stable operating environment later this year.
“The government should use the forthcoming budget to overcome the prevailing economic headwinds by tackling the barriers holding firms back.
“This includes solving labour shortages by reforming childcare and helping bring more working parents back into the workforce, as well as finding a replacement to the super deduction ahead of the planned six-point increase in corporation tax.”