Despite slowing more than expected towards the end of last year, Britain’s annual economic growth was still the fastest since 2007.
In the final three months of 2014 GDP expanded by 0.5 percent. Economists had predicted 0.6 percent.
For the year as a whole, the economy grew by 2.6 percent. That was up from 1.7 percent in 2013.
The UK is almost certain to have been the world’s fastest-growing major advanced economy last year. Most countries have not yet reported 2014 growth data.
The pound slid against the dollar and the euro as the figures reinforced views that the Bank of England is unlikely to raise interest rates this year.
Beyond the headline, the situation is more complex.
It is unclear whether 2014’s growth marks a temporary high point as the economy finally started to rebound strongly after years of sub-par growth following the financial crisis.
Britain’s economy is now 3.4 percent larger than its peak before the financial crisis, and about 8.0 percent bigger than when the current Conservative-led coalition won power in a general election in May 2010.
Much of this has been driven by a higher population and output per head is still below pre-crisis levels.
Wages are only now starting to grow faster than inflation, prompting the opposition Labour party to continue to focus on a “cost of living crisis” in the run-up to the next election, which is in early May.