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BCC downgrades UK growth forecast for 2018

18 June 2018

BCC downgrades UK growth forecast for 2018The UK is set for its weakest year of GDP growth since 2009, according to new analysis by the British Chambers of Commerce.

The BCC is forecasting GDP growth for 2018 of 1.3% (down from its previous forecast of 1.4%). If realised, this will be the weakest calendar year growth since 2009. The BCC has also downgraded its GDP growth forecast for 2019 from 1.5% to 1.4%.

The downgrades have been driven by a "lacklustre outlook" for consumer spending, busines investment and trade says the BCC. Growth in household consumption for 2018 is expected to slow to 1%, before rising to 1.4% in 2019. Business investment growth is expected to slow to 0.9%, down from 2.4% in 2017.

The BCC says the high cost of doing business in the UK and ongoing uncertainty over Brexit will continue to stifle business investment. Meanwhile, the UK's net trade position is expected to weaken over the next few years.

Growth in service sector output, a key driver of UK GDP growth, is also expected to slow to 1.2% in 2018. Consumer-focused businesses, such as retail and hospitality, are expected to remain under pressure amid weak consumer spending.

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the BCC, said: "The latest outlook suggests that the loss of momentum suffered by the UK in the first quarter is more than just a temporary soft patch, with UK growth forecast to remain well below its historic average for the foreseeable future unless action is taken.

"While Brexit uncertainty and the weakness in sterling have weighed on overall UK growth, it is the failure to deal with the longstanding structural issues, from weak productivity to the deep imbalances in the UK economy, that continue to undermine the UK's growth potential."

The BCC is urging the Government to focus on the domestic business environment and take action on skills shortages and poor mobile connectivity, which lower productivity and hold UK businesses back.

"Our forecast should serve as a wake-up call to Government - as it demonstrates that 'business as usual' is not an option when it comes to the economy," said BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall.

"Brexit cannot be Westminster's only priority. Businesses across the country want to see far more urgency around fixing the fundamentals here at home and a concerted effort to lower the high costs of doing business."

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