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GDP activity since economic decline
The UK recovery has had a bumpy ride since it exited recession nearly three years ago.
One-off events such as the Royal Wedding and Japanese tsunami have skewed the figures while any evidence of a healthy bounce-back has been frequently followed by a disappointing lurch back to the reality of the economic downturn.
Here is a quarterly breakdown of the recovery since the UK emerged from its last recession:
:: April to June 2009
This was the final quarter of declining output before the UK pulled out of recession. GDP shrank by 0.2% at a time when other major economies such as France and Germany were putting in a stronger performance. The figures were notable for the high level of saving shown among households who were putting cash aside amid a heightened risk of unemployment.
:: July to September 2009
It was thought until recently that the UK was still in recession between July and September 2009 but revised ONS figures, released in October last year, revealed the economy had in fact returned to GDP growth of 0.2%. However, there is no doubt the economy was still being held back by continued weakness in the financial sector, particularly the banks.
:: October to December 2009
The economy grew at 0.7% in the final quarter of 2009 as families appeared to start spending again. The savings ratio dropped for the first time in over a year but many analysts speculated that this was consumers spending before the pending VAT hike from 15% to 17.5%.
:: January to March 2010
The UK started the year with 0.4% growth, despite heavy snowfall in January which many thought would cause major disruption to output. The services sector managed to eke out 0.3% growth in the period while manufacturing grew 1.4%. However, there were still signs of fragility in the recovery as exports continued to fall, while the return to 17.5% VAT hit consumer spending.
:: April to June 2010
The second quarter of 2010 saw the economy grow at its fastest pace since 2007 as the construction sector put in a record-breaking performance. The nation's builders helped drive 1.1% growth in the period, while household spending rose and savings dropped. However, economists warned that the growth represented a peak in the recovery, and they were right.
:: July to September 2010
Economists expected the growth to slow from the second quarter's stellar advance but the third quarter still held up well with expansion of 0.7%. The surge in construction output continued to drive growth, expanding by 4% during the third quarter and contributing 0.2% of the overall rise in output.
:: October to December 2010
The recovery hit a major blip in the final quarter of 2010 after Arctic conditions led to a shock 0.5% decline in GDP. The services sector drove the fall, declining 0.5%, while the construction surge came to an end, falling 3.3% quarter on quarter. The weak position the economy found itself in at the start of the new year troubled analysts, as Chancellor George Osborne was about to reveal his £81 billion package of spending cuts.
:: January to March 2011
The economy returned to growth in the first quarter of 2011 but, reading between the lines, the figures did not reveal a healthy picture. GDP grew by 0.2%: effectively meaning the economy had still declined over a six-month period. The figures revealed that household spending declined by 0.6% in real terms, its biggest drop since the second quarter of 2009 after consumers were squeezed by the failure of wages to keep pace with inflation.
:: April to June 2011
The UK's economy declined again in the second quarter of 2011 by 0.1%, although this was only recently revealed in revised figures. The dismal performance was driven by a series of one-off events, the ONS said, such as the Royal Wedding, Olympic ticket sales, record warm weather in April and the Japanese tsunami. It was estimated the impact of these effects knocked as much as 0.5% off the GDP figure.
:: July to September 2011
The losses caused by the one-off events in the second quarter were offset in the third quarter as the powerhouse services sector, which makes up 75% of the total economy, grew at 0.7% in the third quarter, up from a previous estimate of 0.6%. But the ongoing squeeze on household spending was underlined by figures revealing real disposable income growth slowed to 0.3% in the third quarter, from 1.3% the previous three months.
:: October to December 2011
Plunging business investment led to a fresh decline of 0.3% in output in the final quarter of last year, while the manufacturing and services sectors also shrank in the period. Although household spending returned to growth, it was still a whole percentage point lower than a year ago.
:: January to March 2012
The UK found itself in recession once again as GDP dropped 0.2% in the first quarter of the year, signalling two quarters of declines. The ONS said the fall was driven by the biggest decline in construction output for three years, while the manufacturing sector failed to return to growth. However, the figure is subject to revisions, as only 40% of the data used in the final estimate has been collected.