UK economy returns to growth after GDP rose 0.2% in January - raising hopes country is on its way out of recession

13 March 2024, 07:20 | Updated: 13 March 2024, 07:54

The UK economy returned to growth in January, ONS data shows.
The UK economy returned to growth in January, ONS data shows. Picture: Alamy/Office for National Statistics

By Jenny Medlicott

The UK's economy grew slightly in January with GDP increasing by 0.2%, official figures show, raising hopes the country could be on its way out of a recession.

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Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the UK economy grew in January by 0.2% after the country slipped into a shallow recession in the final quarter of 2023.

A strong month for retail sales helped drive growth in January, as well as improved activity for house-builders following a downturn in the housing market.

This is contrasted by a fall in the TV and film industry, pharmaceutical industry and legal services.

In the three months to January, however, GDP fell 0.1%.

It comes after the UK economy shrank 0.3% between October and December last year, officially falling into a technical recession.

GDP measures the value of goods and services produced. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP).

The new figures, which are subject to revision at a later date, are in line with what economists were expecting.

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The GDP grew by 0.2% in January, estimates from the ONS show.
The GDP grew by 0.2% in January, estimates from the ONS show. Picture: Office for National Statistics

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the new figure estimates are proof "we are making progress".

Mr Hunt said: “While the last few years have been tough, today’s numbers show we are making progress in growing the economy - part of which makes it possible to bring down national insurance contributions by £900 this coming year.

"But if we want the rate of growth to pick up more we need to make work pay which means ending the unfairness of taxing work twice.”

Liz McKeown, director of economics statistics at the ONS, said: "The economy picked up in January with strong growth in retail and wholesaling.

"Construction also performed well with house-builders having a good month, having been subdued for much of the last year.

"These were partially offset by falls in TV and film production, lawyers and the often-erratic pharmaceutical industry.

"Over the last three months as a whole, the economy contracted slightly."

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