Despite figures yesterday showing that the Treasury had hit all of its lowered borrowing targets, the UK’s economy shrank by 0.2% in the first three months of 2012. This follows a 0.3% contraction between October and December 2011. Two quarters of reverse growth is what defines a period of recession.
The figure is subject to further revisions later, as these preliminary figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) only account for around 40% of the data used for a final figure. They did however say that they had double checked the figures.
ONS added that construction output saw a sharp decline of 3%, the steepest drop in three years. Meanwhile, production industries decreased by 0.4%, while output in the service sector saw a very minor increase of 0.1%.
Joe Grice from the ONS told the BBC that the surge in fuel purchases had arrived at the end of the quarter, too late to make much of a difference. He added that there was "no reason to suppose [there were] any special factors... in these figures".
Further, more detailed figures will be made available through today and the rest of the week.