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BCC: UK facing serious recession

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by Kay Mitchell

In its quarterly economic survey, published today, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is painting a bleak outlook for the UK economy.

According to the BCC, December was one of the worst months ever experienced by the British economy, with a sharp decline in housing market activity and a fall in retail sales.

Furthermore, the BCC said that the manufacturing and service sectors recorded their worst output since data was first collected twenty years ago.

The BCC report is based on a survey of almost 6,000 firms which employ 680,000 people.

Official figures are set to confirm whether the UK is in recession with six months of negative growth later this month.

BCC’s bleak outlook comes as figures from the British Retail Consortium revealed that like-for-like sales in December on the High Street were down 3.3% compared with a year ago while total sales fell 1.4%.

Many retailers have collapsed under the strain of the economic downturn and experts are predicting that many more will follow.

Figures also published today by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) have revealed that property sales fell even further in December to their lowest level since records began over thirty years ago.

According to Rics, the number of sales per estate agency fell during the last quarter of 2008 to 10.1, down from the 10.6 sales per agency reported a month earlier.

The BCC believes that the economic downturn is deepening at an alarming rate and the UK is facing a very serious recession.

The BCC’s director general, David Frost, is calling on the Government to take drastic action to end the crisis. Mr Frost suggests further fiscal stimulus and quantitative easing.

David Kern, the BCC’s chief economist, is forecasting that the UK economy will contract by up to 2.4% in 2009, revised from his earlier prediction of 2.2%.

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News posted: January 13, 2009

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