British economic growth slower than expected in first quarter

Tuesday 29 April 2014 09.53
British GDP was pushed forward by strong growth in the manufacturing sector
British GDP was pushed forward by strong growth in the manufacturing sector

The British economy grew by a slower-than-expected 0.8% in the first quarter of this year but is still on the cusp of surpassing its pre-crisis peak, official figures have shown.

Gross domestic product had been expected to grow by 0.9% but was dragged down by contractions in mining and other production activity, according to the country’s Office for National Statistics.

However manufacturing grew by 1.3%, its strongest quarter for nearly four years, bolstering hopes for a re-balancing in the recovery away from its reliance on consumer spending.

Britain has been struggling to return to its previous levels of activity since it plunged into recession six years ago.

But the overall size of the economy in the first quarter was just 0.6% below the level where it last peaked in early 2008, meaning it looks likely to return to this level during the current quarter.

During the start of 2014, the construction sector is estimated to have grown by just 0.3%, hampered by storms and high rainfall in January and February.

But the ONS said the weather was not judged to have had a significant impact on GDP growth over the period.

Mining and quarrying, together with electricity and gas production, and agriculture, shrank over the quarter.

The dominant services sector, representing more than three-quarters of output, grew by 0.9%.

Manufacturing and construction are taking longer to return to health, and remain 7.7% and 12.2% below their pre-crisis peaks.