The UK economy continued to grow in the fourth quarter of last year but at a lower rate than in the months before, according to The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC). The BBC’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey released today suggests growth continued in the final months of the year thanks to a strong performance from UK manufacturing but the service sector put in a relatively weak performance. BCC analysis of responses from more than 5,600 businesses, indicates growth (estimated to be 0.4% to 0.5%) was at a lower rate than the third quarter. Despite this, both those in the manufacturing and service sectors remain generally optimistic about their businesses’ likely performances in the year ahead. Most firms are planning to raise prices in the wake of the increase in VAT to 20%. David Frost, director general of the BCC, said: “UK businesses have witnessed some of the toughest years in recent memory. Our latest economic survey points to some encouraging signs amongst UK firms, particularly in manufacturing. However, as the figures for the service sector show, we’re not out of the woods yet. Faced with public sector cuts and cost pressures, ensuring the health of UK businesses is critical to a sustained economic recovery.”