Neil Collins

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An unexpected bonus for National Statistics

April 24, 2009

“Mr Deputy Speaker, the UK economy contracted by 1.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2008. For the first quarter of this year, I expect the economy will again contract by a similar amount.”

 Thus spake poor old Alistair Darling at lunchtime on Wedesday. Less than 48 hours later, the first (of many) of his Budget forecasts was proved wrong, as UK National Statistics reported that the economy shrank by 1.9 per cent in the first quarter.

This difference is a little matter of 4.5 billion pounds, and it makes his forecast of minus 3.5 per cent for this year look even less plausible.

Still, there’s a certain grim satisfaction over at National Statistics. It proves that the accusations of ministers being allowed to see the figures before publication, to spin them they way they want, are unfounded. It’s an ill wind…