UK economic growth had already slowed from around 3% in 2014 to around 2% before the EU referendum due to slower global growth, but the vote to leave the EU is likely to lead to a significant further slowdown.
In our main scenario, we now project UK growth to slow to around 1.6% in 2016 and 0.6% in 2017, largely due to the increased political and economic uncertainty following the ‘Brexit’ vote.
The UK would narrowly avoid a recession in this main scenario, although there are particularly large uncertainties around any such projections after the Brexit vote.
The main reason for the slowdown will be a decline in business investment, particularly from overseas in areas like commercial property. This is being driven by economic and political uncertainty in the short term, as well as concerns about the UK’s future trading relationships with the EU in the longer term.
Consumer spending growth is projected to hold up better, but will still slow from previous strong rates, dropping to around 1.3% in 2017 in our main scenario. This reflects the impact of a weaker pound in pushing up import prices and squeezing the real spending power of households, as well as lower consumer confidence levels and slower jobs growth.
Business and financial services sector growth will slow but should remain positive in 2016-17. But construction companies and capital goods manufacturers will suffer from lower investment levels, although some manufacturing exporters will benefit from the weaker pound.