Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has responded to today’s GDP figures, saying that they prove the recovery was “choked off” by the government. His full statement is below:
“Today’s figures confirm that the British economy has been bumping along the bottom for the past twelve months – flatlining when we need strong growth to get unemployment and the deficit down.
“As the ONS has said today, growth of just 0.5 per cent over the past year since the Chancellor’s spending review – compared to 1.6 per cent in the US – is a significant slowdown from the 2.6 per cent we saw in the previous twelve months when we were starting to recover from the global financial crash.
“The fact is that our recovery was choked off well before the eurozone crisis of recent months by spending cuts and tax rises which go too far and too fast.
“Already, the stagnant growth and higher unemployment that George Osborne’s failing policies have delivered mean the government is set to borrow £46 billion more than they planned. After today’s figures, the Chancellor will now have to downgrade his growth forecasts for a fourth time later this month – and revise up again his borrowing forecasts.
“These are really worrying times for families and pensioners struggling to pay the bills, young people out of work in record numbers and businesses on the edge. The combination of sluggish growth, rising unemployment, falling confidence and the latest surveys indicating a contracting manufacturing sector and depressed business confidence mean this is no time for complacency from the government.
“We now urgently need Labour’s five point plan for jobs and growth to help struggling families, get young people back to work and support small businesses. The reckless thing to do is plough on regardless with a plan that isn’t working, the cautious thing to do on basis of all the evidence of this significant slowdown is to act now.”