Midland business leaders have urged the Government to help rebalance the economy and revive the fortunes of the region's struggling manufacturers.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, called for action to ease the effects of a "two-speed economy" and provide a new-year boost to the wealth-creating manufacturing sector.

His appeal comes as new figures show GDP growth in the last quarter of 2015 was 0.5 per cent compared to 0.4 per cent in the third quarter.

But the final quarter growth was offset by marginal declines in production and construction output.

He said: "While UK GDP has met its forecast target, we are conscious of a two-speed economy that is supporting GDP, with a growing service sector, but a struggling manufacturing one.

"Our Quarterly Economic Survey for Q4 indicated that, while greater Birmingham service firms have been performing more strongly in view of UK sales and exports, manufacturing sentiment has fallen amid a slowing world economy.

"Low oil prices and a strong pound are providing further obstacles to their growth.

"It's vital the Government continues to work to rebalance the economy, especially if they are to support the fuelling of the Midlands engine, which is a manufacturing heartland.

"Amid a slowing world economy, we are mindful the UK may struggle in the next year to meet similar levels of GDP growth and believe the Bank of England was right to state now is not the time to consider higher interest rates."

A spokesman for the British Chambers of Commerce added: "The GDP figures demonstrate that the recovery remains fragile.

"While the services sector continues to grow, production is close to stagnation and the construction sector is now in recession.

Every effort must be made to support both these sectors as we seek to rebalance the economy."

Annual growth for 2015 was down on 2014's growth rate of 2.9 per cent and the slowest for three years.

The International Monetary Fund has forecast that the UK economy will grow by 2.2 per cent in both 2016 and 2017.