LONDON, April 29 (UPI) -- Britain's economy picked up pace in the first three months of the year growing 0.8 percent, marking the fifth consecutive GDP growth period for the country.
The Office for National Statistics said the economy was 0.6 percent smaller and that this quarters growth was better than the 0.7 percent growth seen in the last three months of 2013. Chancellor George Osborne said that growth numbers showed that Britain was "coming back," but that it could not be taken for granted.
"Today's figures show that Britain is coming back -- but we can't take that for granted. We have to carry on working through our long term economic plan," said the chancellor. "The impact of the great recession is still being felt, but the foundations for a broad based recovery are now in place."
The year-on-year growth rate was 3.1 percent -- the fastest in six years -- but again below forecasts for 3.2 percent growth.
Despite the strong growth numbers, and even with Britain's struggling construction sector doing well, the country's economy shrunk by 0.6 percent. The manufacturing sector was the strongest performer with output growing by 1.3 percent.
The service sector, which includes everything from hotels and leisure to accountants, grew by 0.9 percent, accounting for almost all of the overall quarterly growth.
But despite the good numbers, they fell short of what analysts and economists had expected.
"While this figure has missed estimates, slightly, the overall feeling is still one of strength in the UK," said Jeremy Cook, chief economist at currency brokers World First. "In fact, this is the kind of news the economy needs -- solid but not spectacular."