The BBC’s business editor Robert Peston has told the property and construction industry that the economy will not recover until the end of 2010.
Addressing the British Council for Offices annual conference he said: “The challenge for the UK is convincing the rest of the world that we can live within our means.
“Yes we are going to recover, your sector will recover. It is not a disaster but it is going to be pretty tough.”
He told conference delegates in Edinburgh that the private sector should assume more of the burden of driving recovery to relieve the public sector, which has been propping up the banking system.
Mr Peston said the recovery would be slow. “When the recovery comes it may be a bit sluggish as households and companies follow banks in paying down debt.”
He added that the downturn was worse in Germany and Japan but added: “The big question is will there be a semi-permanent reduction in the British economy? We will have to tighten our belts for several years.”
Conference chair Mike Hussey, senior vice-president at Land Securities, said: “We need to look at how we do things in the property industry to see if there is anything we can do [to help the global economy].”