The recession could have been worse than first thought, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In a revision of its figures the government body today said that the economy had contracted by 6.4% between the second quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2009, more than the 6.2% that had previously been thought. However, the ONS left its earlier estimate from this year of first-quarter growth unrevised at 0.3%, giving an unchanged annual decline of 0.2%. During the first quarter, the biggest rise in government spending since the final quarter of 2008 added 0.4 % to GDP growth. Commenting on the historical figures for the period from 2008 to 2009 it said that the growth at the start of 2008 had been weaker than first thought, magnifying the size of the subsequent decline. The resulting fall was the biggest since quarterly records began in 1955 and wiped a total £22bn off the economy - £2bn more than previously thought.