GDP growth in the first quarter was better than first thought, following changes to the way construction output is measured.

The UK economy is in better shape than previously thought, it emerged on Tuesday, after statisticians took a fresh look at the health of the construction sector.

GDP rose by 0.4pc in the first quarter of the year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, faster than its previous estimate of a 0.3pc increase, but a slowdown from the 0.6pc growth reported at the end of last year.

The ONS also said that GDP growth last year reached 3pc, rather than the 2.8pc previously reported.

Joe Grice, chief economist at the ONS, said that the upward revision to first quarter growth “is down largely to the recently announced new methods to measure construction output”

The ONS has since December been using mathematical models to estimate the construction’s strength, rather than the hard data it had before.

This month the ONS revamped the way it calculates output, bringing its measurements of the sector’s strength “closer to reality”, analysts said.

Output in the sector is now estimated to have decreased by 0.2pc in the first quarter, rather than the 1.6pc drop initially pencilled in by statisticians.

Revisions to the data meant that the first quarter GDP growth was no longer the weakest since the end of 2012, but rather, the weakest since the end of 2013.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, said: “I welcome today’s news that growth was stronger than previously thought.

“The figures are another reminder that the economic plan we’ve pursued in Britain these last five years has increased our resilience.”

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