The economy shrank by 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Commenting on the preliminary GDP figures, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

 “The worse than expected decline in GDP not only confirms that the UK economy is in a recession, but it also highlights the critical need to persevere with forceful corrective measures.

 “On the basis of these figures, we are now forecasting a decline in UK GDP for 2009 of 2.4 per cent.  

 “While the short-term outlook is dire, it is important not to drift into excessive despondency. The Government and MPC still have important weapons at their disposal, which they will undoubtedly deploy.

 “The huge stimulus package that the new Obama administration plans to introduce could have beneficial global consequences.”