However, the GDP figures released by the Office for National Statistics were 0.3 per cent lower than widely anticipated.
Azad Zangana, european economist at investment bank Schroders, says: ‘Today’s data indicates the start of an extremely fragile recovery, which has been highly reliant on support from fiscal and monetary policy. We estimate it will be at least three years before the UK returns to the level of output achieved in 2007.’
John Wright, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, says: ‘In order to strengthen the recovery it is important that we boost consumer confidence and demand and that interest rates are held steady as continued investment in the economy will be the key to ensuring a sustainable recovery.’
David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, warned that the 1 per cent increase in employers’ national insurance contributions and additional business taxes must be avoided in order to aid recovery.
The economy had previously contracted for six consecutive quarters, the longest period since quarterly figures were first recorded in 1955.