Think Tanks
Printable version

Latest Forecast for UK Economy - NIESR

Prospects for the UK economy

  • The UK economy will grow by 2.9 per cent in 2015 and 2.3 per cent in 2016
  • Unemployment will drop to 5.2 per cent by the end of this year
  • CPI inflation will average about ½ per cent this year, well below target; we do not expect interest rates to rise until the beginning of 2016

We have revised up our forecast for GDP growth in 2015 significantly, to almost 3 per cent. This is almost entirely due to the sharp fall in the oil price. Not only does this boost consumer spending, now forecast to increase by almost 3.5 per cent in 2015, it also improves the UK’s trade balance. However the weakness of the global economy – and in particular the Euro Area, by far the UK’s largest trading partner – remains a hindrance to a significant improvement.

We expect growth to moderate in 2016 and beyond, as the positive impact of the oil price shock dissipates and domestic demand growth softens. Offsetting this is a strengthening global economy that should support the recovery in the growth of exports. The outlook is consistent with economic recovery, and we expect economic growth to outpace growth in long-run capacity for a number of years.

The rate of inflation is forecast to average around ½ per cent per annum in 2015, but there is considerable uncertainty; we estimate a 1 in 10 probability that prices will fall this year. The pass-through from oil price and exchange rate developments to consumer prices is significantly disinflationary, but this is expected to be only temporary.

Just six months ago financial markets had expected the Monetary Policy Committee to introduce the first interest rate rise in time for this February’s Inflation Report. Financial markets have pushed back this expectation to the middle of 2016. We think this exaggerates the shift in the policy stance and we expect the first interest rate rise early next year.

The labour market remains healthy. We expect unemployment to fall to about 5¼ per cent by the end of the year and to remain close to this level through to the end of our forecast horizon.

In the near term, real wages and consumer spending will be boosted by the disinflationary effect of the oil price shock. Beyond this it is the performance of productivity that is the key to real wage growth, and it remains the most significant domestic risk to the UK’s economic outlook. If the recent poor productivity performance is a structural rather than a cyclical phenomenon, as assumed, then this would have serious implications for future standards of living as well as economic policy.

Our projections assume that the government sticks to its current fiscal plans. This would result in an absolute surplus in 2018-19, while public sector net debt would peak at 83 percent of GDP in 2015-16. It is of course possible that a new government would vary these plans: the Commentary in this edition of the Review illustrates the potential macroeconomic impacts of policy changes.


The forecast for the UK economy is published in the National Institute Economic Review no. 231 February 2015.

For a full copy of the UK economic forecast or to arrange interviews, please contact the NIESR Press Office: Brooke Hollingshead on +44 (0) 20 7654 1923/

To discuss the forecast or for interviews, please contact:

Jonathan Portes on +44 (0) 7766 441148 /, or
Simon Kirby on +44 (0) 20 7654 1916/ or
Jack Meaning on +44 (0) 20 7654 1944/ or
James Warren on +44 (0) 20 7654 1909/

Details of NIESR’s previous UK economic forecast can be found here.

The National Institute Economic Review is the quarterly journal of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Published in February, May, August and November, it is available from Sage Publications Ltd (

Further details of NIESR’s activities can be seen on, by or the Switchboard on +44 (0) 20 7222 7665.

For further information:

National Institute of Economic and Social Research
2 Dean Trench Street
Smith Square
London, SW1P 3HE
United Kingdom 


Share this article

Latest News from
Think Tanks

RegTech Webinar: Join leaders from government agencies and regulators to discuss, review and reflect on the adoption of regulatory technology within Government.