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Boost for UK as growth puts on spurt

By Clare Weir

The UK’s economic recovery hopes have received a boost as official figures revealed that the pace of growth accelerated faster than expected in the third quarter of 2011.

GDP increased by 0.5% in the three months to the end of September, representing an improvement on the 0.1% rise in the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics revealed. Econo-mists had predicted a figure of between 0.3% and 0.4%.

The figures will help ease some of the fears about the strength of the recovery after the economy effectively flatlined over the previous nine months.

But the growth is still below its long-term average and economists warn the latest figures were flattered as GDP played catch-up after the previous quarter, which was hit by one-off factors such as the royal wedding.

Fragile

Angela McGowan, chief economist at Northern Bank, said that the provisional GDP figures are marginally better than expected but undeniably on the weak side.

“Getting people back to work is the key to economic recovery,” she said.

“There is now a pressing need for some fiscal stimulus measures to restore confidence and avoid a substantial rise in unemployment.”

Wilfred Mitchell, policy chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, added that the recovery remains fragile following a year of stagnant growth.

“The FSB’s ‘Voice of Small Business’ Index showed that confidence among small businesses has weakened as the year has progressed, and so we need to see clear action from the Government in its Autumn Statement to address this to enable small firms to invest, grow and create jobs which will help strengthen growth,” he said.

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