The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has downgraded growth forecasts once again and predicted sharply higher borrowing as Britain struggles to avoid an unprecedented triple-dip recession.
The Treasury's independent forecaster said growth this year would be 0.6% – half its previous forecast of 1.2%, reflecting the stagnant economy – but said another recession may be avoided.
Its forecast for next year is 1.8%, down from the previous 2%, and 2.3% for 2015.
Despite the weaker growth prospects, the chancellor, George Osborne, reiterated his determination to stick to the coalition's deficit plan. He has struggled to maintain a steady course after more than two years of a flatlining economy.
The OBR, set up by Osborne before his first budget in 2010 to provide the Treasury with independent forecasts, has revised down its predictions of growth since last year when it was confident of a strong recovery.
A year ago, the OBR forecast growth of 2% in 2013, picking up to 2.7% in 2014. Some MPs have become agitated at its poor record, which has proved consistently overoptimistic.
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