Figures to show Britain has emerged from recession


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ministers will today hail Britain's "healing economy" as official figures show it has emerged from double-dip recession, but have been ordered not to mention the "green shoots" of recovery.

Downing Street and the Treasury have told MPs to say that the UK is "on the right track" and the economy is "rebalancing" but to avoid any triumphalism.

They are worried that a return to growth will not generate a "feel-good factor" at a time when millions of people feel have seen their living standards squeezed for several years. "You won't find anyone talking about green shoots," one Cabinet minister said yesterday.

Lord Lamont, when Chancellor during Sir John Major's Government, and Baroness Vadera, a close ally of the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, both came under fire for spotting "green shoots" which were later followed by mixed economic figures.

The Office of National Statistics is expected to confirm today that, after shrinking for three successive quarters, the gross domestic product (GDP) grew in the third quarter of this year, helped by the impact of Olympic ticket sales. But ministers fear that growth will be low or flat for the foreseeable future – and could even slip back into negative growth in one three-month period.

The Government's strategy suffered a setback when David Cameron was accused of jumping the gun and referring to the official figures at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. He said positive signs "will keep coming".

The UK Statistics Authority watchdog is investigating complaints that Mr Cameron breached the rules by hinting about good news in the GDP figures. But Downing Street said: "The issue here is was he talking about tomorrow's figures? I'm telling you he wasn't."

Figures last week showed unemployment fell by 50,000 in the three months to August and that a record number of people are in work. Inflation has fallen to its lowest level for almost two years, although it could increase again due to rising energy, fuel and food prices.