Business investment in Britain fell in annual terms for the first time in three years in the first quarter amid uncertainty around a vote on the UK's European Union membership. 

The Office for National Statistics confirmed the UK economy slowed in the three months from January to March, rising by a quarterly 0.4% compared to growth of 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2015. 

But it did mark the thirteenth consecutive quarter of positive growth in the UK since early 2013.

Today's ONS data showed that consumers continued to drive the economy. 

The UK economy grew by 2% compared to a year ago, against expectations that the data would confirm an initial estimate of 2.1% annual growth in the first quarter. 

Many economists expect growth in the three months from April to June to slow further. 

UK business investment fell by 0.4% year-on-year in the first quarter after rising 3% in the fourth quarter of 2015. 

The ONS said the fall was driven by weaker investment in offices and other non-residential buildings. 

Economists had expected business investment to fall by 0.1% from the first quarter of last year. 

The Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund have said there have been signs that uncertainty around the June 23 vote has impacted investment. 

The Bank of England has also said commercial property transactions fell 40% in the first quarter of this year.

Earlier this month, the heads of 15 major international companies who are major investors in Britain, including GE, Cisco, Mars and Airbus, called for Britain to remain in the EU and said that future investment decisions could be affected by a decision to leave the bloc's single market. 

The Bank of England cut its economic growth forecast for this year in May to 2% from 2.2% and it stepped up its warnings on the economic risks of Britain leaving the Union. 

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said a vote in favour of anexit from the EU could cause a short recession. 

Today's figures show that UK household spending rose by 0.7% in the first quarter, picking up a bit of speed from late last year. 

Consumer spending has been the main driver of Britain's recovery from the financial crisis and policymakers have said they want to see greater investment by businesses to secure a more balanced economy.

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