As the economy shrinks for the first time in 16 years and shares plummet, recession is a certainty

The UK is officially entering a recession, it has been declared, after statistics showed that the economy had shrank for the first time in 16 years between July and September.

The Office for National Statistics said output fell by 0.5% in a bigger-than-expected drop, which knocked UK shares and left the pound weak.

In an interview with the BBC however, chancellor Alistair Darling said he was confident the UK would “get through” the slowdown. “We want to help people get through this period, putting more money in their pockets,” he added.

UK shares have fallen even further today, down by 7% in early afternoon trade, while the pound fell below $1.60 to $1.5889 for the first time in five years.

The deputy governor of the Bank of England, Charlie Bean, called the situation as a “once in a lifetime crisis and possibly the largest financial crisis of its kind in human history.”