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Economic policy 'complete disaster'

Unions have launched a fresh attack on the Government's economic policies, saying its strategy had been a "complete disaster".

Business leaders were less critical, saying economic momentum would build later in the year, although some admitted there were no positive messages to take from the new data.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Today's figures confirm our worst fears that the Chancellor's austerity plan has pushed the UK economy to the brink of an unprecedented triple-dip recession.

"We are now midway through the coalition's term of office and its economic strategy has been a complete disaster. The economy has grown by just 1%, real wages have fallen, and the manufacturing and construction sectors have shrunk. We remain as dependent on the City as we did before the financial crash."

John Cridland, director general of the CBI, said: "After a difficult year, the UK economy has ended on a disappointing note.

"We think growth will continue to be fairly flat through the winter but momentum will gradually build later in the year, as the global economy picks up a little and confidence lifts."

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey called for the Government to change course, adding: "This is now an urgent question of acting in the national interest. This Government has been exposed as failures and fraudsters, and firmly responsible for the continued ruination of our economy."

Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "There are no positive takeaways from today's first estimate of GDP in the final months of last year.

"Even assuming some unwinding of activity from the Olympics boost in the previous quarter, this still leaves no real signs of underlying growth in the economy."

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "With a triple-dip recession looming, it would be incredible if this Government arrogantly ploughed ahead with cuts that even the IMF now says aren't working.

"While official figures confirm again a lack of economic growth, it is obvious to everyone that real people are suffering and the poorest in our society are being scapegoated and punished for the failings of out-of-touch Government ministers."

Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: "If the recent slight pick-up in money supply growth can be sustained, the UK economic outlook in 2013 will be better than people expect. So hold back on the doom and gloom."

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: "How much longer will it take for the Government to admit that it has got it wrong?"

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