A new report from economic forecasting group the Item Club suggests the UK economy is in better shape than at any time since the end of the 1990s -- and looks set to stay that way at least for the next two years.

Sponsored by management consultancy Ernst & Young, the report predicts growth of 3.5% this year and 3% in 2005 boosted by "a global economy firing on all four cylinders", according to Peter Spencer, Item Club's chief economic advisor.

The UK's low unemployment levels are cited as a "ringing endorsement" for the government's running of the economy, although Chancellor Gordon Brown is criticised for overspending and causing high public debt.

Amid fears of a UK house market crash, the report instead predicts a slowdown of the rapid price increases of recent times.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff