Osborne celebrates major growth 'milestone' but questions remain

It's official. The British economy is now slightly larger than it was before everything went wrong at the beginning in 2008.

"A major milestone" says the Chancellor. Really? For many people this won't be feeling much like a return to prosperity.

Growth is strong but it has taken six years for Britain to recover lost ground, the longest recovery in economic history.

Remember too that over that period the population of Britain has grown by roughly three million (ONS hasn't published official figures) so national wealth is spread a little more thinly.

Labour point's about GDP per head is a fair one.

At this moment in time the economy is throwing off jobs, the recovery looks extremely robust. The question is whether it will endure.

The Chancellor scrupulously avoids offering any sort of opinion on this issue, arguing it's an assessment the Bank of England must make.

At this moment in time the economy is throwing off jobs, the recovery looks extremely robust. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

Some economists believe our recovery is driven by consumers running down their savings (pay growth is weak) and a resurgence in house prices and is therefore flimsy. British households remain heavily in debt. Interest rate rises, when they come, may hit people hard however gradually they are introduced.

The chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland does see reason for optimism. The economy has performed so well recently that his bank is making more money than anyone expected it would.

Read: RBS profits surge in first half of 2014

RBS bundled out their half-year results this morning, a week earlier than scheduled. Ross McEwan says he see signs of something "broader than a consumer recovery", he points out RBS's lending to businesses is up 37% on last year. Promising stuff.

Worth noting too that despite strong growth for the past twelve months the deficit (the difference between what the government spends and what it has coming in) has barely closed.

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