Updated: Thu, 25 Jul 2013 15:45:39 GMT | By Agence France-Presse

Britain builds on economic recovery

Britain's economic recovery accelerated in the second quarter, official data showed on Thursday, but finance minister George Osborne insisted that the government would stick to its tough austerity plans.


Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.6 percent in the three months to the end of June, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This was compared to a gain of 0.3 percent in the previous quarter and is the first time since 2011 that Britain has achieved back-to-back quarterly increases.

In the expansion, all main sectors of the economy-- agriculture, construction, industrial production and services -- grew together for the first time for almost three years.

"Given the boost to the 'feel-good' factor from the recent run of events -- good weather, royal baby etc. -- it looks like the recovery will maintain its momentum into the start of the third quarter at least," said Vicky Redwood, chief UK economist at the Capital Economics research group.

Osborne, who shares his first name with Britain's new prince, welcomed the data, but cautioned there was much work to do.

The chancellor of the exchequer tweeted: "Britain's holding its nerve, we're sticking to our plan, the economy's on the mend. But still a long way to go."

Osborne, part of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party that shares power with junior coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, recently unveiled more tough public spending cuts that will come into force just before Britain's next general election.

Britain is committed to more austerity, since the opposition Labour party has already pledged to stick to the coalition's spending plans, should it win the polls due in May 2015.

The coalition insists that its austerity measures are needed to drive down the record budget deficit inherited from the previous Labour administration in 2010.

Cameron on Thursday tweeted that the preliminary GDP figures were "encouraging" and showed that Britain was on the "right track".

The ONS on Thursday added that Britain's economy expanded by 1.4 percent in the second quarter compared with the equivalent period in 2012.

"As had been widely expected, UK economic growth has accelerated," said Scott Corfe, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

"However, while we think that the UK economy should be able to perform even more strongly in 2014 than in 2013, there is a significant risk of growth slowing beyond this period.

"Part of the reason economic growth is relatively robust at present is because the government has given up on cutting public sector spending significantly in the short-term.

"Deep spending cuts in 2016 and 2017 -- likely whoever is in power -- may hold back growth further ahead," Corfe added.

The British economy has also been impacted by the eurozone debt crisis. Britain, a member of the European Union but not a member of the single currency bloc, has the eurozone as its main trading partner.

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