Growth in the British economy over the three-month period ending in January 2013 was flat at 0 percent, the London-based think-tank National Institute of Economics and Social Research (NIESR) said here on Thursday. The stagnation was already an improvement on NIESR's own and the official estimate of GDP in the three months to December, with many expecting that the GDP figures could show a decline. The British economy contracted by 0.3 percent in the three months ending in December 2012. But NIESR principal research fellow Simon Kirby told Xinhua that the change from negative growth to no growth did not represent a recovery. "This is not really an improvement from where the economy was at the end of 2012," Kirby said. "What we have to bear in mind was that the weakness in 2012 Q4 was overstated by a series of special factors - so if you strip those out then the underlying performance of the British economy in Q4 was flat. This is just a continuation of that, it leaves us no better off than we were at the end of Q4 on an underlying basis," he said. Kirby said this flat performance reflected what had been the underlying story of the British economy over the past few years, which was an absence of growth. "In January 2013 the British economy is only 0.5 percent above the level of output in 2010 Q3," Kirby said. He said he expected the British economy would expand by 0.7 percent in 2013. "However this is not recovery, and it is nowhere the kind of growth rates the British economy needs to begin to talk about recovery. And when we look at in per capita terms (GDP per head), we are expecting no growth this year, which compares with a contraction of 0.8 percent per capita GDP for 2012," Kirby said. For the first quarter of 2013, Kirby predicted 0.2-percent GDP growth, with a "relatively weak" growth rate throughout the rest of 2013. "The growth rate in the economy will begin to accelerate into 2014, but still really we are not able to talk about a GDP recovery until 2015," he said.