London, Aug 18 : The British Chambers of Commerce has predicted that the UK is heading for recession as it forecasted that the number of unemployed in Britain would jump by up to 300,000 people to above two million over the next few years.
The BCC's quarterly economic forecast came amid a flurry of surveys suggesting that the British economy was in its most parlous state since at least the 1990s, The Times reported.
The BBC, which becomes the first business group to forecast that Britain would fall into recession, predicts that the economic slump will force unemployment to soar by between 250,000 and 300,000 in the next two to three years.
It added that total unemployment of more than two million could not be ruled out. This would take unemployment to the same level as the year that Labour came to power.
The BCC said there was a possibility that the economy would shrink during two quarters before next March, pushing the country into a technical recession. It cut its forecast for economic growth to 1.3 per cent this year and 1.1 per cent next year, down from 1.7 per cent this year and 1.6 per cent in 2009.
The Bank of England is battling soaring inflation as well as the slumping economy. Inflation reached a 16-year high of 4.4 per cent last month, more than double the Bank's 2 per cent target.
The number of people claiming unemployment benefits surged at its fastest rate for 16 years during July, rising by 20,100. The total number of people out of work is 1.67 million, according to official figures.
The threat of job losses will pile more pressure on beleaguered householders. The soaring cost of food and energy has cut families' spending power by nearly 700 pounds a year.