Sir James Dyson has criticised the government for not “going for growth” after the latest official figures revealed an increasing likelihood of a recession in the UK.
The inventor said wealth generation and growth had become “dirty words” while praising the economic policies of former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and former prime minister Liz Truss, whose disastrous mini-budget sent the pound crashing against the dollar and brought the near collapse of pension funds and soaring mortgage costs.
“I was hopeful (with Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng). I thought they were doing the right thing – I’m the only one who did. Kwarteng wasn’t raising taxes. He was going for growth, which I think is the right thing. It allows us to pay for things and generates wealth,” Dyson, the founder of the eponymous vacuum cleaner firm, told the Daily Telegraph.
“I’m disappointed we’re not going for growth”.
The remarks come after the latest economic assessment revealed gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.1% in the third quarter, rather than the previous estimate of no growth, dealing a blow to the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, who had pledged economic growth by the year’s end and before an expected general election next year.
“I’ve always believed that inflation isn’t quite the enemy everyone thinks it is. If you’ve got growth, a bit of inflation doesn’t matter,” said Dyson. Inflation fell to 3.9% in November.
“If you get inflation down and kill growth, I think you’re in trouble.”
Responding to the GDP data, the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, said the medium-term outlook for the economy was “far more optimistic” than the recent figures suggest, as the UK comes perilously close to reaching a recession – when the GDP falls for two consecutive quarters – should the economy contract further in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve seen inflation fall again this week, and the OBR [Office for Budget Responsibility] expects the measures in the autumn statement, including the largest business tax cut in modern British history and tax cuts for 29 million working people, will deliver the largest boost to potential growth on record,” said Hunt.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said much of the revision came from a poorer than previously assessed performance by small companies, film production, engineering and design, and the telecommunications and IT sector.
Shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, said the revised GDP figures show Sunak has failed to meet his promise.
She said: “Rishi Sunak is a prime minister whose legacy is one of failure. He failed to beat Liz Truss, he failed to cut waiting lists, he failed to stop the boats and now he has failed to grow the economy.
“Thirteen years of economic failure under the Conservatives have left working people worse off, with higher bills, higher mortgages and higher prices in the shops.
Darren Morgan, the director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “The latest data from both our regular monthly business survey and VAT returns show the economy performed slightly less well in the last two quarters than our initial estimates.
“The broader picture, though, remains one of an economy that has been little changed over the last year.”