The UK economy shrank by 0.3% in the final quarter of 2012, said the Office of National Statistics, sparking fears that the UK could be returning for a third spell in recession.
The drop was largely due to a fall in quarrying and mining caused by problems at the UK’s largest North Sea oil and gas fields, said the ONS.
However, even without these issues, the economy would still have shrunk by 0.1%, with manufacturing also suffering in the last three months of 2012.
The economy had previous grown by 0.9% in the third quarter, aided by the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Overall, however, growth was flat over the course of the whole year. And despite the Funding for Lending Scheme, designed to boost lending through commercial loans and mortgages, experts predict that the economy is likely to remain flat into the start of 2013.
John Cridland, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, said that improvement would not emerge until later in the year.
"After a difficult year, the UK economy has ended on a disappointing note," he said.
"We think growth will continue to be fairly flat through the winter but momentum will gradually build later in the year, as the global economy picks up a little and confidence lifts."
Schroders’ European economist, Azad Zangana, predicted that the quantitative easing programme would be restarted when the economy failed to spark.
"There is a significant risk that the UK economy suffers a triple-dip recession," he said.
"Weak underlying economic activity coupled with the disruption of recent poor weather could cause GDP to fall in the first quarter of 2013.
"We expect the Bank of England to restart its quantitative easing programme in the Spring as the economy continues to disappoint."
He added that the threat of triple-dip recession would likely cost the UK its prized AAA credit rating in the near future.
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