CBI upgrades growth forecast

Published: Monday 16th February 2015 by The News Editor

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The CBI has upgraded its forecast for economic growth this year amid low oil prices and falling inflation.

Britain is now expected to grow by 2.7% in 2015, up from a previous projection of 2.5%, according to the business group.

The CBI cited continued strong job creation and said wage growth was finally picking up – combining with low inflation to boost living standards. Inflation for December was measured at a record-equalling low of 0.5% with January figures due tomorrow.

It also said lower energy prices were feeding through to lower operating costs for companies leaving more space for investment – though North Sea companies have taken a hit.

Oil prices have fallen by around half since last summer.

The CBI said the better picture for the economy also reflected the likelihood that the Bank of England would not raise interest rates from 0.5% until early next year. It expects to see growth of 2.6% for 2016, up from a previous prediction of 2.5%.

But the organisation warned of continued political volatility at home and abroad with the approach of the UK general election, the Greek debt crisis, and the stand-off over Ukraine, which has made it hard for exporters to secure orders.

UK gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.6% in 2014, outpacing other major world economies but falling short of earlier expectations. The rate of growth is expected to be overtaken by the US this year.

Katja Hall, the CBI’s deputy director-general, said: “UK growth continues to outshine its counterparts in Europe and progress is ‘steady as she goes’.

“While lower oil prices are keeping costs down for businesses and consumers, the North Sea oil companies are suffering, harming jobs and investment in the industry.

“Now is not the time for complacency, but falling unemployment coupled with improving wage growth and rock bottom inflation should mean that people see more money in their pockets.”

The CBI’s economic forecast for this year brings it into line with the International Monetary Fund’s latest projection. The Bank of England forecasts growth of 2.9%.

Last week the Bank said it expected inflation was “more likely than not” to turn negative this spring – helping real terms take home pay this year to climb at its fastest rate in a decade.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director for economics, said: “The UK is in good shape compared with other economies, with both investment and household spending underpinning economic growth. But there are still risks to exports from a shaky eurozone.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “The CBI’s latest economic forecasts are further proof that our long-term economic plan is working, showing upgrades to UK growth forecasts for 2015 and 2016 with pay cheques growing significantly faster than inflation.

“This is welcome news for households and families, but the job is not yet done so we must keep working through the plan that is delivering economic security in an uncertain world economy.”

Published: Monday 16th February 2015 by The News Editor

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