GDP swells by 0.7% as UK show 'fastest growth' since 2007

Economy is 'robust', but growth slowed slightly in last quarter of 2013 and construction shrunk

LAST UPDATED AT 10:46 ON Tue 28 Jan 2014

THE UK economy grew by 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2013, a result hailed by David Cameron as hard evidence the government's economic plan is working.

The new data shows that the British economy expanded by 1.9 per cent last year – the "fastest growth in a calendar year since 2007", The Guardian says.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today also reveal that the UK grew during all four quarters of the calendar year, something that hasn't happened since the start of the financial crisis in 2008. ONS chief economist Joe Grice said there is now a "rather better tone" to the UK economy, but did not reveal when he expected the recovery to trigger higher wages.

On the downside, the economy is still 1.3 per cent smaller than before the financial crisis began.

The International Business Times points out that while GDP growth is "robust", it has slowed slightly. The UK economy grew by 0.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2013.

George Osborne seized on the new data to suggest that the job of economic reform was far from over and more austerity measures were needed.

"Growth is broadly based with manufacturing growing fastest," he said. "The job is not done and the biggest risk to recovery would be abandoning the plan."

The ONS figures also reveal that the service sector, which represents three quarters of the economy, was the biggest driver of GDP growth in the final quarter. There was also growth in agriculture and production output, at 0.5 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively. Manufacturing grew 0.9 per cent, though construction suffered a 0.3 per cent fall in output.

Grice told the Guardian that the fall in construction output "may be down to seasonal factors," but did not elaborate.

Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, said the figures showed the UK economy is moving "in the right direction".

"Unemployment is down and growth is up," he said. "The Coalition government has set Britain on the right course by repairing the country's finances and helping to create over 1.6 million jobs in the private sector. But we must finish the job fairly, with further investment in jobs outside London and by cutting taxes for working people." · 

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