The official figures were the fourth quarter of negative growth in the last five and mean that the UK flatlined for last year as a whole – posting zero growth.
The economy is smaller than it was in September 2011 and still 3.3pc below its pre-crisis peak.
Making matters worse, there was scant evidence in the data that the economy is rebalancing from consumption to manufacturing. Output by Britain’s factories fell by 1.5pc in the quarter and by 1.8pc for the year as a whole – the first annual decline since 2009.
Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight, described the situation as “dire” and added: “We believe the economy is essentially flat at the moment. We suspect that GDP will not return to the level seen in the first quarter of 2008 until the first half of 2015 – a gap of seven years.”
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