A surging UK service sector, which accounts for around three quarters of GDP
, is driving economic growth (Reuters)
A leading business organisation has lifted its UK growth forecasts as a strident service sector outperforms the rest of the economy, though the burgeoning recovery from the global financial meltdown is still not guaranteed.
According the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the UK economy will grow by 1.3% in 2013, up from its previous estimate of 0.9%. In 2014, the BCC predicts 2.2%, up from 1.9%, and 2.5% in 2015, up from the past guess of 2.4%.
Unemployment will fall to a rate of 7% by the final quarter of 2015, the trade deficit will narrow, and strong growth in consumer spending will all help the economy to recover, said the BCC.
However, a global slowdown in fast-growth Asian markets, key export targets for UK firms, as well as unresolved financial issues in the eurozone hover threateningly over the economy and could upset a recovery.
"The improved outlook is testament to the steadfast determination shown by businesses in previous quarters, who have consistently displayed confidence in the face of unwarranted pessimism over the economy," said John Longworth, director general of the BCC.
"Unfortunately however the recovery is not yet secure. We have had false dawns in recent years and although this upturn appears to be on stronger ground, we must be aware that complacency could lead to setbacks."
It is the latest set of UK economic forecasts to be upgraded and follows the gathering pace of GDP growth from the first to second quarters, with 0.3% and 0.7% expansion respectively, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The Bank of England (BoE) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have raised their UK growth forecasts for 2013. The BoE predicts around 1% expansion, while the IMF estimates 0.9% growth in the year.
BCC's Longworth said the government must up its game to make the most of what could finally be a recovery from the financial crash.
"Improving access to finance for viable, fast-growing businesses is a major priority, and the government and the MPC must do more to ensure that vibrant SMEs can obtain finance on reasonable terms," said Longworth.
"The government must also work with the Bank of England and the Treasury to underwrite private sector investment in infrastructure projects, and our 'have a go' exporters need support on the ground to help them break into new markets.
"The government simply cannot divert attention away from growth, and must adopt measures to foster an enterprise-friendly environment in which businesses can continue to create jobs, invest and export. Only by doing this will we encourage the optimism and move our economy forward from good to great."
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