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UK economy grew at slower pace than first thought in third quarter

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The UK economy grew less than previously estimated in the third quarter, lagging behind other advanced countries, according to official data.

UK output grew 1.1 per cent in the three months to September compared with the previous three months, lower than the 1.3 per cent signalled by initial estimates, data from the Office for National Statistics showed on Wednesday.

The gap with the output produced in the final quarter of 2019, before the pandemic, was revised to 1.5 per cent, smaller than the 2.1 per cent previously estimated, because of upward revisions to growth in 2020.

However, this remains a bigger hit than for other advanced economies. Over the same period, the eurozone economy nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels, while output in the US and China has already exceeded it.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “Our revised figures show UK GDP recovered a little slower in the third quarter, with much weaker performances from health and hairdressers across the quarter, and the energy sector contracting more in September than we previously estimated.”

The ONS figures also showed that household consumption was the main driver of growth, with an upwardly revised increase of 2.7 per cent.

As a result, the household saving ratio — the average percentage of disposable income that is saved — fell to 8.6 per cent in the third quarter from 10.7 per cent in the previous three months.

While this was well below the peak of 24 per cent in the spring of last year, at the height of the Covid restrictions, it was also well above its 2019 average level of 4.9 per cent. This suggests that households were saving more than usual, even after most of the pandemic-related restrictions were lifted.

Economists say that the amount of excess savings held by households could help propel the UK economic recovery once the fear of infection has subsided.

With the Omicron coronavirus variant now hitting the UK, economic growth is expected to have lost momentum with a further rise in household savings.



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