UK economic growth slowed 'to lowest rate since 2012'

UK economic growth slowed in the final quarter of last year Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

The UK's economic growth has slumped to its lowest rate since 2012, new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

Britain's economy grew at 0.2% between October and December, a fall from 0.6% in the previous quarter attributed to the World Cup and the extended period of warm weather during the summer.

Whilst Britain's Gross Domestic Product increased during the period, the rise of 1.4% pitches it at its weakest level since 2009.

Car production was down 4.9% in the period, marking the biggest decline since the first quarter of 2009. Overall, production output decreased by 1.1%, taking its heaviest hit since 2012.

Construction was also lower, dropping 0.3% in the fourth quarter. This follows two consecutive quarters of growth during the summer, when companies caught up with work delayed by adverse weather early in the year.

The ONS said it reflected a slowdown across a number of industries, as Brexit-related concerns weighed on business-to-business spending at the end of 2018.

Rob Kent-Smith, head of GDP at the organisation, said: “GDP slowed in the last three months of the year with the manufacturing of cars and steel products seeing steep falls and construction also declining. However, services continued to grow with the health sector, management consultants and IT all doing well.

“Declines were seen across the economy in December, but single month data can be volatile meaning quarterly figures often give a better indication of the health of the economy.

Separate data from the ONS showed that Britain's total trade deficit widened slightly in the last three months of the year by £900 million to £10.4 billion, due to a rise in goods imports including cars and chemicals.