UK growth estimate gets a surprise downgrade

This could affect the Bank of England's decision making when considering an interest rate hike

UK growth estimate gets a surprise downgrade

Chris Radburn / PA

The UK's growth in the third quarter has been revised to 0.4% - down from the 0.5% previous estimate, according to the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The new lower assessment of growth has been blamed on weaker growth in the services sector, especially in financial services.

It means that in annual terms, growth has been revised down to 2.1% from a previous reading of 2.3%, something that will surprise many, including the Bank of England as it decides whether it will raise interest rates.

Economists taking part in a recent Reuters poll expected no change to the GDP (gross domestic product) estimates for the July to September period.

The British economy has expanded for 11 consecutive quarters but these latest figures mean 2015 expansion has been muted, with the year beginning with a slowdown to 0.4% in the first quarter, edging up to 0.5% in the second and then a drop back to 0.4% in the third.

The news will also be a blow to Chancellor George Osborne, as it comes just a day after it was revealed that borrowing - excluding the effect of bank bailouts - rose to £14.2bn in November, £1.3bn up on the same month last year.

A Treasury spokesman said: "We should be clear, as the IMF said earlier this month our recent economic performance has been strong.

"The UK was the fastest growing economy in the G7 last year, we're leading the pack with the US this year, we have a record high employment rate and the deficit is down.

"Today's figures highlight that risks remain – that's why we should continue working through our plan to build an economy that delivers security for working people."

Ruth Miller, UK economist at Capital Economics in London, said the figures showed that "the economic recovery has less momentum than previously thought and still looks worryingly unbalanced".

She added: "Looking ahead to next year, a number of factors threaten to undermine the recovery. However, we think that the economy should still weather these well."