GDP quarterly national accounts, UK: January to March 2022

Revised quarterly estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) for the UK. Uses additional data to provide a more precise indication of economic growth than the first estimate.

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Cyswllt:
Email Rachel Meyrick

Dyddiad y datganiad:
30 June 2022

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
12 August 2022

1. Main points

  • UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have increased by an unrevised 0.8% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2022.

  • The level of real GDP remains 0.7% above where it was pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) at Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019; for more information, see Section 6: Revisions to GDP.

  • In output terms, the largest contributors to the increase in Quarter 1 2022 were information and communication, and transport and storage; production output was primarily driven by a rise in manufacturing output; and construction output rose.

  • Household final consumption expenditure grew by an unrevised 0.6%, whereas gross fixed capital formation grew by a revised 3.8%.

  • Real Household Disposable Income (RHDI) fell by 0.2% this quarter – nominal household gross disposable income grew but was offset by quarterly household inflation; this is the fourth consecutive quarter of real negative growth in disposable income.

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GDP estimates for Quarter 1 2022 are subject to more uncertainty than usual as a result of the challenges we faced estimating GDP in the current conditions.

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2. Headline GDP figures

UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have increased by an unrevised 0.8% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2022. The level of real quarterly GDP in the UK remains 0.7% above its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019 (Figure 1). An indicative monthly GDP path associated with today's quarterly figures can be found in the associated dataset.

Nominal GDP rose by a revised 3.2% (from 2.5%) in Quarter 1 2022. This primarily reflects revisions to current price household consumption expenditure. It is now 9.2% above its Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019 levels.

The implied GDP deflator rose by 2.4% in Quarter 1 2022, upwardly revised from a first estimate of 1.8%. This reflects a revised estimate of the implied price of household consumption, in particular spending on financial services. Compared with the same quarter a year ago, the implied GDP deflator rose by 2.8%, upwardly revised from 2.1%. This was mainly driven by a 5.5% increase in the implied price of household consumption, reflecting the inflationary pressures in consumer prices, partially offset by a 5.4% decline in the implied price of government consumption.

This implied GDP deflator represents the broadest measure of inflation in the domestic economy, reflecting changes in the price of all goods and services that comprise GDP. It is important to note that the GDP deflator covers the whole of the economy, not just consumer spending. Movements in the implied GDP deflator in 2020, 2021 and 2022 have been largely affected by the government consumption deflator, which is the expenditure that is incurred by government in producing non-market goods and services, such as health and education. The volume of government activity fell while at the same time government expenditure increased in nominal terms. This reflects how we record volume estimates of health and education as explained in our blog, Public services: measuring the part they play in the economy through the pandemic.

Figure 2 shows the latest quarterly change in nominal and real GDP for the G7 economies. The UK and Canada experienced the largest increase in both real and nominal GDP in Quarter 1 2022.

Recent analysis highlights the challenges of making international comparisons of GDP and suggests it may be useful to compare nominal and real estimates of GDP, as well as estimates excluding government expenditure.

More about economy, business and jobs

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3. Output

In Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2022, output rose by 0.8%, unrevised from the first quarterly estimate.There were quarterly increases in the output produced by the three main industries – services, production and construction. There were some small upward revisions to the quarterly change in services and production output in Quarter 1 2022. This was offset by a downward revision to the quarterly increase in construction output.

Services

Services output rose by 0.6% in Quarter 1 2022, upwardly revised from a first quarterly estimate of 0.4% (Figure 3). Services output is now 1.5% above Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019 levels.

In Quarter 1 2022, the rise in services output was driven by an increase in output from information and communication (4.2%), driven by rises in computer programming and information service activities. The rise in transport and storage (4.9%) output was driven mainly by positive contributions in warehousing and support activities, and postal activities. Administrative and support service activities rose by 3.2% in Quarter 1 2022, reflecting a rise in travel agencies, tour operator and other related activities, boosted by the easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions on the tourism industry. The quarterly rise in accommodation and food services (5.0%) follows the adverse impact of the Omicron variant towards the end of Quarter 4 2021.

Within services, however, there was a 2.1% fall in all three industries within the wholesale and retail trade, and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles sub-sector. The Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) highlighted that around 40% of businesses within the wholesale and retail trade industry reported global supply chain disruptions at the end of the first quarter of 2022. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) vehicle data noted hampered deliveries of car and commercial vehicles because of global supply chain pressures, including shortages of semiconductors. Average road fuel sales published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reported a peak in demand on 24 and 25 February 2022 as Russia invaded Ukraine, which may have brought forward some fuel sales from March to February 2022.

Human health and social work activities fell by 2.3% in Quarter 1 2022, reflecting a large fall in COVID-19 detection activities, such as NHS Test and Trace and the COVID-19 vaccination programme, and lateral flow orders. This follows a marked increase in output for human health and social work activities at the end of Quarter 4 2021 because of the COVID-19 vaccination booster campaign.

The revised estimates of services output have left the cumulative sub-sector-level impacts relative to pre-coronavirus levels broadly unchanged.

Production

Production output rose by a slightly revised 1.3% in Quarter 1 2022 but remains 1.7% below its pre-coronavirus levels. The rise in production output in the latest quarter was primarily driven by a rise in manufacturing output (1.4%). There were large increases in the manufacture of basic metals and metal production; other manufacturing and repair; and manufacture of food products, beverages and tobacco. This was partly offset by a fall in the manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations. There was also a fall in the manufacture of transport equipment, reflecting supply chain shortages that led to temporary closures of factories in January and February 2022, as highlighted in our March 2022 GDP release.

Figure 4 shows that the revised estimates in the latest quarter of the production industries are broadly unchanged. The downward revisions in mining and quarrying were partly offset by upward revisions in manufacturing, and electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply.

Relative to pre-coronavirus levels, water supply and sewerage is the only production industry to have recovered above Quarter 4 2019 levels. Meanwhile, mining and quarrying, and electricity, gas, steam and air remain the furthest away from their Quarter 4 2019 levels. Manufacturing remains 0.1% below pre-coronavirus levels.

Construction

Construction output rose by 2.2% in Quarter 1 2022, revised down from a first quarterly estimate of 3.8%.

Within Quarter 1 2022, construction output was revised down 1.6 percentage points to 0.5% growth in January, revised down 0.1 percentage points to 0.1% growth in February and revised up 0.4 percentage points to 2.1% growth in March. The revisions in construction are mainly a result of late and revised survey data, in particular in the infrastructure and new work categories. Further breakdowns of construction will be published on 13 July 2022.

Construction output is now 0.3% above its pre-coronavirus levels.

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4. Expenditure

Expenditure rose by 0.8% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2022, driven by increases in private consumption and gross capital formation (Figure 5), in particular inventories. There have been some large gross trade flows in the first quarter of this year, particularly in imports. However, there is some additional uncertainty on EU trade flows because of recent changes in how some of these data are collated. For more information, please refer to the trade sub-section of this release and our recent blog, Understanding the latest changes to UK trade figures with the EU.

We previously referred to practical challenges in balancing gross domestic product (GDP) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,and in Quarter 1 2022, there have been challenges in balancing the expenditure approach to GDP. In line with our previous approach and as at the first quarterly estimate for Quarter 1 2022, rather than force a GDP balance for expenditure by heavily adjusting the expenditure components, we have decided to show the best estimate of each underlying component at this stage. For further information, please refer to the gross capital formation sub-section and Section 10: Measuring the data.

Household consumption is now 0.4% below its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level, while government expenditure is 7.1% above. Business investment is now 9.2% below its Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019 level.

Private consumption

The volume increase in household expenditure was unrevised at 0.6% in Quarter 1 2022. This was driven by rises in spending on restaurants and hotels; communication; recreation and culture; and clothing and footwear. There were partial offsets from net tourism; alcohol and tobacco; and transport, mainly because of a fall in expenditure on motor cars as a result of reasons outlined in Section 3: Output

There is an upward revision to current price household consumption expenditure. This is now estimated to have increased by 2.3% on the quarter, revised up from the first estimate of 1.9%. There are revised current price estimates of spending on financial services, in particular financial intermediation services indirectly measured (FISIM). This is the implied charge by financial intermediaries on the financial services that are provided. The revisions reflect incorporating the recent tightening in financial conditions on this implied charge.

Consumption of government goods and services

There was a revised 1.3% decline in real government consumption expenditure in Quarter 1 2022, primarily driven by falls in health expenditure. This was driven by reductions in coronavirus activities, following the introduction of the Living with COVID-19 programme. The decline in the first quarter of this year in part reflects lower levels of these COVID-19 activities, as further shown in our latest GDP monthly estimate bulletin. However, there was an increase in other types of health activities, including face-to-face appointments at GP surgeries and a continuation of the increased use of telephone consultations.

In current prices, there was a 2.5% increase in government expenditure in the first quarter of this year, driven by a rise in the government expenditure on health.

Net trade

The UK's trade deficit widened to a record 5.4% of nominal GDP in Quarter 1 2022 (Figure 7), primarily reflecting a rise in goods imports. This partly reflected volatile movements of non-monetary gold. Excluding non-monetary gold, the trade deficit was 4.2% in Quarter 1 2022.

Our trade estimates are primarily based on data collected by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). A recent HMRC data collection change affected our EU to Great Britain import statistics, which are under continued assessment for the impact of this change. We therefore recommend caution in interpreting movements across periods, as outlined in our latest UK trade bulletin. For more information, please see Section 10: Measuring the data.

Total export volumes fell by a revised 4.4% in Quarter 1 2022 with both exports of goods (negative 7.4%) and exports of services (negative 1.1%) falling. The fall in export goods was driven by unspecified goods machinery and transport equipment and  chemicals. Services exports falls were driven by other business services, financial services,  and telecommunications. This was partially offset by rises in travel services and personal cultural and recreational services.

In Quarter 1 2022, total import volumes rose by a revised 10.4%, particularly in unspecified goods, machinery and transport equipment and fuels. There were falls in the imports of other business services and travel services.

Gross capital formation

Volume estimates of gross fixed capital formation rose by 3.8% in Quarter 1 2022, revised downwards from the first quarter estimate of 5.4%. This primarily reflects downward revisions to government investment, which is now estimated to have increased by 16.9% on the quarter.

Business investment fell by a downwardly revised 0.6% in Quarter 1 2022, which is now 9.2% below its pre-coronavirus level. As detailed in the Quarter 1 2022 Business Investment bulletin, there was continued weakness in capital expenditure on transport equipment in Quarter 1 2022 because of supply chain constraints, particularly the continued semi-conductor shortage. .

Note that balancing and alignment adjustments are typically applied to the inventories component to help balance the expenditure approach to average gross domestic product.

For Quarter 1 2022, the alignment adjustment is larger than normal (Table 2). This is a result of challenges in balancing GDP, therefore we have decided to show the current best estimate of each underlying component of expenditure rather than force a balance. More detail can be found in Section 10: Measuring the data

Excluding the alignment adjustment, there was a £5.7 billion increase in the inventories in Quarter 1 2022. The quarterly increase was driven by higher levels of inventories being held by the retail and wholesale industries in particular.

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5. Income

Nominal gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 3.2% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2022, revised from the previous estimate of 2.5%. Nominal GDP is now 9.3% above its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels.

Compensation of employees rose by 2.9% in Quarter 1 2022, revised upwards from 1.5%. This revision reflects the availability of updated labour market estimates and revised Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) National Insurance contributions data. The quarterly increase in compensation of employees was driven by increases in wages and salaries, primarily because of rises in private sector wages and salaries. Our average weekly earnings in Great Britain bulletin shows rises in both total and regular pay in Quarter 1 2022.

Taxes and subsidies rose in Quarter 1 2022 by a revised 7.4%. This resulted from upward revisions to taxes. Subsidies  were revised downwards but still grew in Quarter 1 2022. Revisions to taxes were mainly driven by revised VAT data, while revisions to subsidies were driven by downward revisions to housing equity injections. Taxes less subsidies are now above their pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

Excluding the alignment adjustment, private non-financial gross operating surplus (GOS) increased by 2.5% in Quarter 1 2022. There was also a 4.3% increase in financial corporations' GOS on the quarter, including the effects of the revised financial intermediation services indirectly measured (FISIM) estimates that better capture the effects of the recent tightening in financial conditions.

Note that alignment and balancing adjustments are typically applied to the GOS component to help balance the different approaches to GDP. We previously referred to practical challenges in balancing GDP during the coronavirus pandemic. This in part reflects large government interventions in response to the coronavirus pandemic in areas such as employment costs via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) subsidy to businesses and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) payment to the self-employed. These schemes, alongside various business grants, tax deferrals and the VAT rate cut for the hospitality sector, have all made the measurement of income more challenging across 2020 and 2021.

For these reasons, rather than forcing a GDP balance for income by adjusting the income components, we show the best estimate of each underlying component of income at this stage.

In doing so, this means that the alignment adjustment, used to align income to average GDP, is larger than normal in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2021 (Table 3). This both preserves the component level movements and shows the current level of challenge and uncertainty within the income approach to GDP. We will continue to review this over the coming quarters as and when more information becomes available, and when the quarters are open to revision.

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6. Revisions to GDP

The dataset is only open to revision for Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2022 as part of this publication, as per the National Accounts Revision Policy. There are revisions in this release because of the replacement of forecasts with actual survey or external source data and new seasonal adjustment factors.

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7. Quarterly sector accounts

Uncertainty in trade and FDI figures

Changes to the way EU imports data have been recorded and collected from January 2022 onwards may have led to a discontinuity in trade figures and the rest of the world’s net lending or borrowing position for Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2022. We advise caution when interpreting 2022 compared with other periods as the impacts of these changes are still being investigated. In addition, changes to the sample framework for foreign direct investment (FDI) statistics means there is a higher degree of uncertainty than usual with inward FDI data. As such, users should be cautious when interpreting Quarter 1 2022 statistics reflecting the UK’s interaction with the rest of the world.

Non-financial account net lending and borrowing (seasonally adjusted)

Figure 9 shows that, in the non-financial account, the UK's borrowing position with the rest of the world was 8.4% as a percentage of GDP in Quarter 1 2022, with UK borrowing increasing from 1.3% of GDP in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2021. The latest quarter's borrowing exceeds the previous highest borrowing seen in Quarter 4 2014 of 7.0% of GDP as the UK's trade deficit widened to £33.4 billion, from a deficit of £6.2 billion in Quarter 4 2021, driven by an increase in imports of goods.

Households saw an increase in their net lending position to 0.9% as a percentage of GDP in Quarter 1 2022, up from 0.6% of GDP in the previous quarter. This was driven by a rise in wages and salaries of £5.9 billion, predominately in the private sector, a 2.4% increase on Quarter 4 2021. Other capital transfers increased by £3.6 billion; this is a return to a normal Quarter 1 level following zero student loan write-offs in Quarter 4 2021. This was partially offset by a £8.5 billion rise in final consumption expenditure, which itself was driven by increased spending on consumption-related financial intermediation services indirectly measured (FISIM), and restaurants and cafes.

General government increased its net borrowing position to 6.7% as a percentage of GDP in Quarter 1 2022 from 5.1% of GDP in Quarter 4 2021. Within this, central government saw a fall in net property income of £6.4 billion, driven by a fall in dividend income of £4.3 billion. Capital transfers payable also increased by £4.9 billion, again reflecting the zero-write-off value of student loans in the previous quarter. There was a rise in central government final consumption expenditure of £3.2 billion, driven by increased spending on health. This was partially offset by a rise in value added tax received of £5.2 billion.

Non-financial corporations switched to net borrowing of 2.1% of GDP in Quarter 1 2022, following a net lending position of 3.4% in Quarter 4 2021. Within non-financial corporations, private non-financial corporations (PNFCs) increased their net acquisition of inventories by £16.9 billion, driven by manufacturing finished goods, wholesale and retail. Added to this, net property income fell by £17.4 billion, which was driven by an £18.2 billion increase in dividends paid out during the quarter.

Financial corporations decreased their net lending position to 0.1% of GDP in Quarter 1 2022 from 0.8% of GDP in the previous quarter. This was driven by an increase in gross capital formation of £11.2 billion, which was itself driven by the acquisition less disposable of valuables. This was partially offset by a rise in net property income of £4.0 billion, which was itself driven by an increase in net distributed income of corporations.

Real Household Disposable Income (RHDI) fell by 0.2% this quarter; nominal household gross disposable income grew by 1.5% but was offset by quarterly household inflation of 1.7%. This is the fourth consecutive quarter of real negative growth in disposable income, with household quarterly inflation the highest since Quarter 1 2011, when it was 2.4%. Driving the rise in household costs this quarter were FISIM and transport price increases.

Figure 10 shows that the household saving ratio remained unchanged at 6.8% in Quarter 1 2022. Household gross disposable income grew by 1.5% compared with the previous quarter, with wages and salaries showing a 2.4% increase on Quarter 4 2021. There was also a rise in employers' social contributions of £2.8 billion, driven by a rise in national insurance contributions. This was partially offset by rises on taxes on income and wealth of £3.6 billion, as a result of an increased number of pay-rolled employees. Household final consumption expenditure rose by 2.3% from the previous quarter. This was driven by household final consumption expenditure growth on consumption-related FISIM, and restaurants and cafes.

Financial account net lending and borrowing (not seasonally adjusted)

Households switched to net borrowing of £2.5 billion in Quarter 1 2022, following a net lending position of £14.3 billion in Quarter 4 2021. This was driven by a fall in deposits with monetary financial institutions of £11.8 billion, and a £8.0 billion increase in the acquisition of loans secured on dwellings.

General government decreased their net borrowing position by £23.8 billion to £13.8 billion in Quarter 1 2022, with central government decreasing their net borrowing position by £20.0 billion to £12.2 billion in Quarter 1 2022. This was driven by a decrease in UK central government securities issued of £60.9 billion. This was partially offset by a decrease in net other deposits of £22.9 billion.

Non-financial corporations switched to net lending of £11.2 billion in Quarter 1 2022, following a net borrowing position of £3.3 billion in the previous quarter. Private non-financial corporations (PNFCs), a subsector of non-financial corporations, switched to net lending of £11.6 billion in Quarter 1 2022, following a net borrowing position of £4.1 billion in Quarter 4 2021. PNFCs experienced increased net other accounts payable of £12.9 billion, together with a decrease in liabilities in UK listed shares of £5.5 billion, with assets in rest of the world shares increasing by £4.9 billion. This was partially offset by assets in financial derivatives decreasing by £5.5 billion and a net decrease in loans of £5.5 billion.

Financial corporations switched to net borrowing of £23.9 billion in Quarter 1 2022, following net lending of £13.9 billion in Quarter 4 2021. This was driven by an £85.6 billion decreased acquisition of assets in rest of the world shares and other equity, and partially offset by decreased liabilities in short-term debt securities issued by UK monetary financial institutions of £51.2 billion. More data relating to the sector and financial accounts can be found in our Quarterly sector accounts, UK: January to March 2022 bulletin.

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8. GDP quarterly national accounts data

GDP – data tables
Dataset | Released 30 June 2022
Annual and quarterly data for UK gross domestic product (GDP) estimates, in chained volume measures and current market prices.

GDP in chained volume measures – real-time database (ABMI)
Dataset | Released 30 June 2022
Quarterly levels for UK gross domestic product (GDP), in chained volume measures at market prices.

GDP at current prices – real-time database (YBHA)
Dataset | Released 30 June 2022
Quarterly levels for UK gross domestic product (GDP) at current market prices.

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9. Glossary

Contribution to growth

Contribution to growth indicates how many percentage points a sector or industry is adding or removing from a given growth rate, usually headline gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Chained volume measure

Data in chained volume measures (CVMs) within this bulletin have had the effect of price changes removed (in other words, the data are deflated), except for income data, which are only available in current prices.

Gross domestic product

A measure of the economic activity produced by a country or region. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is the main indicator of economic performance. There are three approaches used to measure GDP:

  • the output approach
  • the expenditure approach
  • the income approach

Index numbers

Data relative to a given base value, which typically refers to a particular year or quarter.

For further definitions, please see the Glossary of economic terms.

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10. Measuring the data

Reaching the gross domestic product (GDP) balance

The different data content and quality of the three approaches – the output approach, the expenditure approach and the income approach –dictate the approach taken in balancing quarterly data. In the UK, there are more data available on output in the short term than in either of the other two approaches. However, to obtain the best estimate of GDP (the published figure), the estimates from all three approaches are balanced to produce an average, except in the latest two quarters where the output data take the lead because of the larger data content.

Because of quarterly GDP being a balanced measure of the three approaches and the output approach focusing solely on growth in gross value added (GVA) and output as a proxy for GDP, there is a difference in 2020 and 2021 data (in both levels and growths terms) between the quarterly publications (average GDP) and the GDP monthly estimate (output approach to GDP). Quarterly GDP is the lead measure of GDP because of its higher data content and inclusion of variables, which enable the conversion from a GVA concept to a GDP basis.

Information on the methods we use for Balancing the output, income and expenditure approaches to measuring GDP is available.

Alignment adjustments, found in Table M of the GDP quarterly national accounts data tables, have a target limit of plus or minus £3,000 million on any quarter. However, in periods where the data sources are particularly difficult to balance, larger alignment adjustments are sometimes needed as explained in our recent article, Recent challenges of balancing the three approaches of GDP.

In this quarter, the alignment adjustment, which is used to align expenditure to average GDP, is larger than normal (Table 2). This approach preserves the component level movements and shows the level of challenge and uncertainty currently within the expenditure approach to GDP. Work will continue before the Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2022 GDP quarterly national accounts release on the 30 September 2022, with a focus on the expenditure approach to GDP, and we will continue to review this over the coming months as and when more information becomes available.

To achieve a balanced GDP dataset through alignment, balancing adjustments are applied to the components of GDP where data content is particularly weak in a given quarter because of a higher level of forecast content. The balancing adjustments applied in this estimate are shown in Table 6. The resulting series should be considered accordingly.

GDP monthly estimate

On 13 June 2022, estimates of Monthly GDP were published for April 2022. The Index of Services, Index of Production and Construction output in Great Britain publications covering April 2022 are also available.

This release sees revisions for Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2022. Although this release focuses on providing the best quarterly estimate of GDP, an indicative monthly path for Quarter 1 2022 is provided in the accompanying dataset.

A full breakdown of the monthly data consistent with this quarterly release will be available in the next monthly GDP release (on 13 July 2022).

Business investment

After the release of Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2021 business investment data in March 2022, a processing error was discovered in the production of own account software estimates for the period of Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) to Quarter 4 2021. As a result of National Accounts revision policy, we are unable to revise 2021 data until the release of the annual National Accounts Blue Book consistent dataset in September 2022. For more information, please see the Business Investment in the UK bulletin.

Pre-coronavirus comparisons of quarterly GDP

We previously referred to the challenges of measuring GDP during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the different levels of uncertainty surrounding each measurement approach.

With downward revisions in the expenditure measure and upward revisions in the output measure in 2021, there is a difference between monthly and quarterly GDP measurements relative to the Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019 pre-coronavirus level (Table 7).

This is further highlighted in Table C2 in the GDP quarterly national accounts data tables with the 2021 expenditure statistical discrepancy.

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11. Strengths and limitations

The UK National Accounts are drawn together using data from many different sources. This ensures that they are comprehensive and provide different perspectives on the economy, for example, sales by retailers and purchases by households. Further information on measuring gross domestic product (GDP) can be found in the Guide to the UK National Accounts, and more quality and methodology information is available in the Gross domestic product (GDP) QMI.

Important quality information

There are common pitfalls in interpreting data series, and these include:

  • expectations of accuracy and reliability in early estimates are often too high

  • revisions are an inevitable consequence of the trade-off between timeliness and accuracy

  • early estimates are based on incomplete data

Very few statistical revisions arise as a result of "errors" in the popular sense of the word. All estimates, by definition, are subject to statistical "error".

Many different approaches can be used to summarise revisions; the "Accuracy and reliability" section in the Gross domestic product (GDP) QMI analyses the mean average revision and the mean absolute revision for GDP estimates over data publication iterations. 

GDP estimates for Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2021 are subject to more uncertainty than usual as a result of the challenges we faced estimating GDP in the current conditions. Differences in the methods for estimating the output of health and education services across different countries mean GDP may be less internationally comparable during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and recovery than usual, so comparisons should be made with increased caution. For more information, please refer to our recently published blog, Why has UK GDP fallen so sharply in the pandemic?

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Rachel Meyrick
gdp@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 1633 455284