London - The British economy grew by 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2014, the Office for National Statistics said Tuesday, slightly lower than expectations.

It was the fifth quarter of consecutive growth, the longest stretch of uninterrupted expansion since the financial crisis, and just 0.6 per cent below the country's economic peak of early 2008.

Chancellor George Osborne welcomed the news but warned that economic recovery should not be taken for granted.

“The impact of the great recession is still being felt, but the foundations for a broad-based recovery are now in place,” he said.

“The biggest risk to economic security would be abandoning the plan that is laying those foundations.”

Gross domestic product was 3.1 per cent higher than the same quarter a year ago, the highest rate of growth since 2007.

“The UK economy appears to be enjoying a 'Goldilocks' scenario of solid, but not excessive, growth which should allow both inflation and interest rates to remain at low levels for some time yet,” said analyst Jonathan Loynes of Capital Economics.

Jeremy Cook, chief economist at currency brokers World First, said the figures were “solid but not spectacular.”

Increases in manufacturing and industrial production were “encouraging for those of us who remain concerned as to the UK economy's over-reliance on the service sector,” he added. - Sapa-dpa