Unemployment will rise to almost three million in the next two years, according to the accountants Deloitte.

A quarterly review by the economist Roger Bootle predicted that 2.9million Britons will be out of work by the end of 2010 – up by more than 1.2million on current figures.

The predicted rise would be bigger than that experienced during the early-Nineties recession, but not as sharp as the early-Eighties slowdown, which saw unemployment peak at 3.2million in 1984.

In the firm’s quarterly economic review, Mr Bootle also predicted that interest rates would fall to their lowest levels since 1951.

Sunday Telegraph