News | Published December 10 2019

Growth of UK economy at slowest rate for almost seven years, according to ONS figures

Official figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that the UK economy grew at its slowest annual rate for almost seven years during October.

Fuelled by the services sector, GDP increased by 0.7 per cent in October 2018, but this was the weakest growth recorded since March 2012.

The three months to October recorded flat growth against the previous quarter.

In the three months spanning August to October, the manufacturing sector and construction sector both contracted by 0.7 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively, as the ONS pointed out a “notable drop” in housebuilding and infrastructure over October in particular.

Pound sterling still performed well following the news, increasing in value on Tuesday after gaining ground the previous day. In early morning trading in London, the currency increased in value by 0.2 per cent against the dollar to $1.3157, and 0.1 per cent against the euro to 84.18 pence.

PWC’s chief economist, John Hawksworth, put the “loss of momentum” in the economy down to prolonged Brexit uncertainty.

Hawksworth said: "Growth seems likely to remain subdued through the rest of 2019, but we would hope for a gradual revival in activity over the course of 2020 if current political and economic uncertainties ease.

“Our main scenario is for one per cent GDP growth in 2020 assuming an orderly Brexit.”

All three of the major parties have made their ambitions to boost economic growth clear to voters ahead of Thursday’s snap general election.

The parties have refused to be drawn in by discussion on the economic outlook for the next year, but Jack Leslie of the Resolution Foundation, feels it is an issue that the new government will have to be able to navigate.

Leslie said: “While the main parties have avoided any discussion of this challenging economic environment during the election campaign, navigating it will be a central task for the next government nonetheless.”

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
December 10 2019

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