A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. The economy shrank by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2011. The UK economy has returned to recession, after shrinking by 0.2% in the first three months of 2012.
BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders says it “adds to the picture that the economy is bumping along the bottom”.
She said economic output was slightly smaller now than it was in the autumn of 2010.
Wednesday’s figure is an early estimate and is subject to at least two further revisions in the coming months. It is compiled using 40% of the data gathered for later revisions.
The UK economy was last in recession in 2009.
The ONS said output of the production industries decreased by 0.4%, construction decreased by 3% and output of the service sector increased by 0.1%. Bank of England governor Mervyn King has previously warned that the economy will continue to “zig zag” this year.