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UK narrowly avoided recession as economy flatlined at the end of 2022

10 Feb 2023 3 minute read

The UK’s economy flatlined in the last three months of 2022, helping it to avoid a recession by the thinnest of margins, new data show.

The Office for National Statistics recorded 0.0% growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter.

Anything below zero would have pushed the economy into recession. A recession is generally defined in the UK as two quarters of declining GDP in a row and the economy contracted 0.2% in the third quarter.

The ONS said that when counting to two decimal places, the UK eked out a tiny 0.01% growth. These figures might be revised in late March when the ONS looks again.

It came as December’s GDP figures showed that the economy shrunk by 0.5%, in part due to strikes and the World Cup, as the Premier League took a break.

Public services

“The economy contracted sharply in December meaning, overall, there was no growth in the economy over the last three months of 2022,” said ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan.

“In December public services were hit by fewer operations and GP visits, partly due to the impact of strikes, as well as notably lower school attendance.

“Meanwhile, the break in Premier League football for the World Cup and postal strikes also caused a slowdown.”

Lawyers had a good month, and people also spent more on energy as they heated their homes during the cold snap.

Across the year as a whole, the economy grew by 4% as restaurants, bars and travel agents bounced back from the pandemic, the ONS said.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said that the UK is “not out the woods yet” and said that the country could have some of the best growth prospects in Europe if it sticks to his plan.

“Our economy is more resilient than many feared,” he said.

“However, we are not out the woods yet, particularly when it comes to inflation.

“If we stick to our plan to halve inflation this year, we can be confident of having amongst the best prospects for growth of anywhere in Europe.”

Cost of living

Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves called for more help for households with the cost of living.

“Today’s figures show us how – despite Britain’s great potential – our economy is stuck in the slow lane,” she said.

“We can be a leader in the industries of the future that will help grow our economy.”

“And we must bring in urgent measures to prevent yet more harm from the cost-of-living crisis, using a proper windfall tax on oil and gas giants to stop the energy price cap going up in April so that people have more money in their pockets.”

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Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
1 year ago

To quote Richard Murphy (@RichardJMurphy) on Twitter today…

Who cares if we are not in a technical recession if millions cannot make ends meet, heat their homes, pay the rent or mortgage and feed their children? Who cares about the technicalities?

The well-off are doing just fine right now. No one else is.

1 year ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

Spot on. These self congratulating politicians are just not kidding anyone any more unless there are people out there willing to be led by the nose in any direction. After the cataclysm of the last 18 months on top of the slow rot of the previous 10-12 years the economic plight of ordinary people is disastrous. Now we get the old sauce about “inflation coming down” well maybe it is but it is still expressed in positive numbers which means that our purchasing power, or what’s left of it, is further eroded.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 year ago

I don’t believe it, the UK government has been saying we have avoided or might go into recession for the past year – let’s have some honesty and admittance – we are in a recession and have been for a while. It’s time to forget about the terminology and focus on getting us out of this mess.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

The trouble with them all being millionairs is that they don’t actually know what a Recession feels like, so of course they don’t like to admit that for the 99% we are well into the red.

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