The UK’s economy shrank by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2012, meaning the country is now technically back in recession.
The threat of a double-dip recession had been looming for some time, after Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
A recession is defined as two successive quarters of economic contraction, so a double-dip recession was always a possibility in the first three months of this year.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed the fears this week, as it announced that GDP was down by 0.2%.
There had been a lot of debate over how the economy performed in the first quarter of the year, with some predicting growth of as much as 0.3%.
However, for many commentators and experts, the news of an economic contraction came as no surprise.
“Today’s devastating figures are worse than we imagined, yet not a surprise given the government has been sucking investment, wages and confidence through extreme austerity measures,” said Kevin Rowan, Regional Secretary of the Northern TUC.
“Ministers now need to review all their decisions over the last two years and reflect on how they have contributed to a loss in confidence, jobs and growth. Some of the mistakes made have been breathtaking and have threatened our country’s long term future in key industries.”
The decline of the UK’s economy has been largely attributed to a sharp drop off in construction output in the first quarter of the year.
The ONS’s data revealed that construction output in the UK fell by 3%, while the production industries fell by 0.4% and the service sector, including retail, fell by 0.1%.
“The huge cuts to public spending have left a hole too big for other sectors to fill,” said Judy Lowe, deputy chairman of industry body CITB-ConstructionSkills.
Under fire from opposition politicians and industry experts, the government has said the figures are very disappointing.
“I don’t seek to excuse them, I don’t seek to try to explain them away,” David Cameron said at Prime Minister’s Questions.
“There is no complacency at all in this government in dealing with what is a very tough situation, which frankly has just got tougher.”
The UK is now officially in recession, but the majority of people will not have noticed much of an improvement since the last recession in 2009.
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