By Marcus Leach

The British Chambers of Commerce believe today's revised GDP figures show a need to strengthen the private sector.

Revised figures released by the Office for National Statistics confirmed that economic growth was at 0.5%.

“These figures were largely as expected, confirming that GDP rose by 0.5 percent in the first quarter, after declining 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. These movements mean that the level of output was virtually the same as it was in the third quarter of last year," David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said.

“The downward revision in the year on year figure from 1.8 percent to 1.6 percent reflects reduced estimates for previous quarters, and highlights the challenges facing the economy. The downward revisions in the earlier estimates for manufacturing and exports are disappointing, but the fall in business investment was not as sharp as previously expected.

“The outlook for the economy remains uncertain. While we expect GDP growth in the second quarter of the year to remain in positive territory, the pace of expansion is likely to be slow for some time. We are starting to feel the effects of the government’s austerity measures, and lost working days in April could also have dampened economic activity. With consumers feeling the pressure, it is clear that Britain’s future growth depends on a strong rebalancing towards exports and investment. There are signs that this is happening, but the government must reinforce these trends by empowering private sector firms to create jobs and growth.”

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