A Bradford economist has warned against hopes of an early sustained recovery following the official end of the recession.

Dr Damian Ward, of the Bradford University School of Management, said the outlook for the next quarter was precarious and the UK economy remained in dire straits.

Minimal growth over the past quarter should be seen against a six per cent drop in GDP overall, he said.

“The 0.1 per cent growth means that, for every £100 of economic activity, we only added 10p during that period.”

Growth had been achieved largely through higher retail sales boosted by lower VAT. Dr Ward doubted this would be sustained now the tax had returned to its former level of 17.5 per cent.

On the other hand, there were encouraging signs from manufacturers who had suffered from customers running down stocks but were now seeing business picking up as that process ended.

Dr Ward said: “Smaller businesses have now reached a point where they must rebuild stock but cannot get bank funding to do this.

“6The Government must get banks lending to small businesses again and at the right price.”

He said exporters should focus on growth markets such as China, India and South East Asia, rather than the recession-hit United States and Europe.

Although unemployment had remained lower than feared, the UK was suffering from ‘under employment’, with more part-time working and pay freezes.

The Construction Skills Network said growth would be slow until 2014 after a 13 per cent slump in activity last year. It forecast no consistent recovery for construction until 2011, when it is expected to grow by an average of 1.6 per cent a year in Yorkshire.

Bradford accountant Adrian Allen warned many businesses would struggle to survive in 2010. Mr Allen, a partner at Baker Tilly Restructuring and Recovery in Saltaire, said: “While economists may be rubbing their hands in glee at the upsurge in the health of UK PLC, the stark fact is many businesses will fight to survive during 2010.”

Bradford Council leader Coun Kris Hopkins warned the deepening debt crisis, with the Government borrowing £6,000 a second, put recovery at risk.

He said: “The Government currently borrows more in five seconds than the average British person earns in a year and this is simply not sustainable.

“This year, the UK is expected to borrow almost 14 per cent of our GDP. The Government is spending more paying off interest on our national debt than on almost anything else.

“We also have the biggest budget deficit of any large economy and, last month, we had the worst public borrowing figures for any December on record. This debt must be tackled swiftly and determinedly before it gets even more out of control.”