By Daniel Hunter

Business investment in the UK fell at its sharpest level since 2009 in the final quarter of 2014, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Businesses spent 1.4% less in the fourth quarter, compared with the previous three months.

The ONS said that falling oil prices are the likely cause of falling investment.

With prices dropping by half since June, businesses scaled back their investment, particularly those in the North Sea oil industry.

"Given the recent steep fall in oil prices, it might be expected that investment by the oil extraction industry might also fall, as oil production becomes less profitable," the ONS said.

Economists have argued that business investment may continue to struggle until the uncertainty surrounding the general election in May is settled.

Compared with the fourth period in 2013, business investment was in fact up 2.1%. Compared with the middle of last year, however, it dropped from an 11% rise.