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Despite Uptick, UK Austerity Isn't Working

The U.K. economy grew 0.3 percent in the first quarter. The numbers were better-than-expected and Finance Minister George Osborne was quick to point to signs of healing in the economy.

"Today's figures are an encouraging sign the economy is healing," he said.

But take a look at just three charts, which show why the U.K.'s austerity plan is so controversial and why many argue it isn't working.

(Read More: UK 'Not Much Room for Maneuver': Fitch)

Pimco's Bill Gross, billionaire investor George Soros and the International Monetary Fund have all taken shots at the U.K. government's plans of reigning in public spending.

The main criticism is around the impact on GDP, which is forecast to rise just 0.6 percent this year. The chart below from Lombard Street Research compares U.S. and U.K. growth since the financial crisis.

The U.K. has suffered two recessions since 2008 and while it narrowly avoided a "triple-dip" recession on Thursday, real GDP is still below pre-crisis levels. On the other hand, the U.S. economy has recovered much more strongly.

(Read More: A Bad Week for UK's Osborne)

The second chart, also from Lombard Street Research, shows that the government's budget deficit is still extremely high, above 8 percent, because weak growth has hit tax receipts.

As a result, the government has already missed its own deficit targets and public sector net borrowing in 2012-2013 came in at 120.6 billion pounds ($186 billion), only a touch lower than the previous year's 120.9 billion pounds.

Finally, the country's overall debt pile is still growing. At current rates, net public sector debt will rise to 1.637 trillion pounds ($2.5 trillion) by 2017-2018.

Last week, Fitch became the second ratings agency to cut the U.K.'s triple-A rating, citing the country's rising public debt burden and said U.K. debt-to-GDP will peak at 101 percent.

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