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UK growth figures disputed

The discussion over the UK growth figures continues, as Business Secretary Vince Cable told BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight’ that he found the figures indicative of “solid growth” that would establish a “balanced economy”.

The comments followed yesterday’s House of Commons clash when Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband disagreed over the interpretation of the published UK growth figures. The latest quarterly GDP figures increased by 0.5%, which cancels out the 0.5% contraction at the end of 2010.

Joe Grice, the chief statistician at the Office for National Statistics suggested the economy had been “on a plateau” since last summer whilst Tony Dolphin, senior economist at the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank argued: “The UK has just come as close as it is possible to come to a recession without actually being in one."

Cameron had stressed that the slight increase UK growth figures in the first quarter of this year was “good news” in the House of Commons during the first Prime Minister's Questions since the Easter break.

Despite the overall increase being less than the 0.8% forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility, Cameron had insisted: “What is encouraging in the figures is that the British economy is growing once again, manufacturing is up, exports are up, and we are seeing a rebalancing of the economy so we are not over-reliant on private consumption.”

Miliband retorted that the economy had “flatlined” over the last six months and therefore it was impossible to assert these figures were positive.

David Kern, the chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, highlighted the "fragility of the recovery" and said the Government must work to support growth in businesses.

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