UK GDP flatlines as chancellor pledges to get economy ‘growing healthily again’

The UK economy flatlined in the third quarter of 2023, according to new numbers published by the Office for National Statistics this morning.

The ONS said there had been no growth in the three months from July to September.

It does mean the UK will avoid a recession this year, which is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP.

ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “The economy is estimated to have shown no growth in the third quarter. Services dropped a little with falls in health, management consultancy and commercial property rentals. These were partially offset by growth in engineering, car sales and machinery leasing.

“In the month of September the economy grew slightly, with increases in film production, health and education. This growth was partially offset by falls in retail and computer programming.”

The ONS said services fell by 0.1 per cent, construction grew by 0.1 per cent and production was flat at 0.0 per cent, as the UK economy appeared to remain stagnant.

The 0.0 per cent growth comes following an increase of 0.2 in the previous quarter.

Responding to the latest ONS data, Jeremy Hunt said: “High inflation is the single greatest barrier to economic growth.

“The best way to sustainably grow our economy right now is stick to our plan and knock inflation on its head.

“The autumn statement will focus on how we get the economy growing healthily again by unlocking investment, getting people back into work and reforming our public services so we can deliver the growth our country needs.”

He added: “The British economy is much more resilient than many people predicted.”

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “These figures are further evidence that the economy is not working under the Conservatives and working people are worse off.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “The economy narrowly avoided contracting in Q3, and we continue to think that it can maintain this resilient performance in Q4.

“We continue to think that the chances of a recession look low.”

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “Working people are paying the price for Tory failure.

“Today’s dismal growth figures – with household, government and business spending all falling – is yet more evidence of their economic mismanagement.

“The outlook is bleak. The UK is teetering on brink of recession with unemployment rising and no real green shoots on the horizon.

“We can’t go on like this. Jobs and livelihoods are on the line.

“We need a serious plan for jumpstarting our stagnant economy. That means a proper industrial strategy and investment in green infrastructure and public services.

“And this means a change of government.”

James Smith, Research Director at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The UK economy has stagnated again in recent months, driven in part by the rapid rise in interest rates since late 2021. There is a real risk that the UK could fall into recession for the fourth time in 15 years.

“Britain is a stagnation nation that has struggled to secure sustained economic growth since the financial crisis. Addressing this is the central task we face as a country, and must be at the heart of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in 10 days’ time.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.