Gross domestic product increased by 0.2% in the second quarter and by 0.5% in June – following a dip the previous month when an extra bank holiday was held for the King’s coronation.
By Daniel Binns, business reporter
Friday 11 August 2023 12:04, UK
The UK economy grew slightly in the three months to June, according to official estimates.
Gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 0.2% in the second quarter of the year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. In June alone it rose by 0.5%.
It comes after a rate of 0.1% was recorded in the first quarter, the lowest amount possible to still be classed as growth.
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Experts said the economy had bounced back in June following a dip the previous month, when an extra bank holiday was held to celebrate the King’s coronation.
Rishi Sunak hailed the data as „good news”. The prime minister added: „There’s still more work to do, but today’s figures show the plan is working.”
However, critics said it would mean little to those struggling with the cost of living, while Labour accused the government of „economic mismanagement”.
Darren Morgan, the ONS’s director of economic statistics, said: „Manufacturing saw a particularly strong month with both cars and the often-erratic pharmaceutical industry seeing particularly buoyant growth.
„Services also had a strong month with publishing and car sales and legal services all doing well, though this was partially offset by falls in health, which was hit by further strike action.”
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He added: „Construction also grew strongly, as did pubs and restaurants, with both aided by the hot weather.”
However four days of strikes by junior doctors weighed on GDP in June.
The Bank of England has forecast that the UK will likely avoid recession in 2023 but suggested the economy will effectively flatline for the next few years.
It recently hiked interest rates for the 14th time in a row to 5.25% as it attempts to bring down inflation.
The rate of inflation fell by a bigger-than-expected drop in June but still remains high at 7.9%.
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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told Sky News last week that the UK, along with Europe, the US, Canada and Japan, were „all in a low growth trap that we need to get out of”.
He added: „What you’ll see from me in the autumn statement is a plan that shows how we break out of that low growth trap and make ourselves into one of the most entrepreneurial economies in the world.”
The new data puts the UK on a good course to avoid recession this year, which is defined as two quarters in a row when GDP shrinks.
However, there are still concerns about the longer-term outlook for the economy. A report by thinktank the National Institute of Economic and Social Research warned earlier this week there was a „60% risk” of a recession in 2024.
Commenting on the latest figures, Mr Hunt said: „The actions we’re taking to fight inflation are starting to take effect, which means we’re laying the strong foundations needed to grow the economy.
„The Bank of England are now forecasting that we will avoid recession, and if we stick to our plan to help people into work and boost business investment, the IMF have said over the longer-term we will grow faster than Germany, France and Italy.”
‘Economy isn’t working’
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said the figures showed that „growth in the economy is still on the floor”.
She added: „13 years of economic mismanagement under the Conservatives has left Britain worse off and trapped in a low growth, high tax cycle.”
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation also said the modest GDP growth „means little to the 7.3 million low-income families who right now are going without essentials like heating, eating and adequate clothing.”
The charity’s chief economist Alfie Stirling added: „For too many people, and too many places, the economy simply isn’t working.”
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: „The chancellor is asleep at the wheel while our economy is going nowhere.
„Stagnant growth puts jobs at risk and holds down pay and conditions for those who remain in work.”
ONS publishes data every month on GDP, which aims to measure the sum total of everything produced in the economy.
However, the indicator has faced criticism for failing to include some parts of the economy, such as the contribution of unpaid carers.