As per reporting by the ONS (The Office for National Statistics) for the second quarter in a row, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the UK has declined, meaning that for Q3 & Q4, GDP in the UK shrank by 0.5%.

This was the mildest start to a recession since the 1970s, with the last five in the UK seeing the economy shrink by more than 1%, and in further promising news, forecasters believe this will only be a short-term recession.

What caused the recession?

The BoE (Bank of England) has set interest rates at 5.25% (the highest rate in 16 years) to combat inflation, which has indeed shrunk from the 11.1% high in October 2022 to 4% as of February 2024. And whilst this is promising news, it does mean that the cost of borrowing is high. Furthermore, the inflation rate is still double the BoE's targeted 2%, so interest rates are unlikely to fall until the summer of 2024 at the very earliest.

Why raise the rates?

Increasing the rates forces people to stop spending as freely as the interest on borrowing for products such as mortgages, credit cards, and personal loans is higher.

By raising the rates, disposable income is lower, and it encourages people to save instead of spend which impacts services such as retail and despite Christmas, December retail sales fell by 3.2%. ONS figures show that all major sectors - services (by 0.2%), production (1%) and construction (1.3%) contracted in the final three months of 2023. 

What does this mean?

The promising news is that it's thought to be a short-term recession and despite this recession at the back end of 2023, the economy did grow by 0.1% in 2023, while not inspiring, does mean that there is a platform for growth in 2024. 

Interest rates will likely come down this year, which should help ease the burden of the ongoing cost of living crisis. And lead to a stronger end of year for the UK. As these interest rates come down, and if inflation remains low, this should have a corresponding impact on growth for the UK as it will free up capital for investment.

Politically it could have a large impact on current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who pledged last year to halve inflation and grow the economy. Whilst the inflation rates coming down will be a sign of promise, the recession will come as a large blow to Mr Sunak & the Conservatives with an election looming.