UK inflation jumps to 40-year high of 9 per cent, as food and energy costs soar
- Britain’s annual inflation rate surged last month on rocketing energy costs, deepening a cost-of-living crisis
- Energy bills, and food and fuel prices are all rising, forcing some households to skip meals to save money
British inflation leapt last month to its highest annual rate since 1982, piling pressure on finance minister Rishi Sunak to step up help for households facing a worsening cost-of-living crisis.
Consumer price inflation hit 9 per cent in April, the Office for National Statistics said, surpassing even the peaks of the early 1990s recession that many Britons remember for sky-high interest rates and widespread mortgage defaults.
Sunak said countries around the world were being hit by high inflation.
“We cannot protect people completely from these global challenges but are providing significant support where we can, and stand ready to take further action,” he said.
Anti-poverty campaigners called on him to act now, starting with an immediate increase in the value of welfare benefits to match inflation.
“As the price of essentials like food and energy continue to soar, the Chancellor’s inaction will make an already desperate situation for many even worse,” Rebecca McDonald, senior economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which campaigns for lower income households, said.
Millions of households across Britain were hit with a 54 per cent jump in gas and electricity bills last month after regulators boosted the energy price cap to reflect previous increases in wholesale prices.
A survey published on Tuesday showed two in three people in Britain were turning off their heating, almost half were driving less or changing supermarkets and just over a quarter say they have skipped meals.
Nations across the world are plagued by decades-high inflation as the Ukraine conflict pushes up energy and food prices, in turn forcing the Bank of England (BOE) and other central banks to ramp up interest rates.
BOE governor Andrew Bailey on Monday warned of an “apocalyptic” situation surrounding runaway food costs – which he said were fuelled by major wheat and cooking oil producer Ukraine finding itself unable to export its goods.
Earlier this month the BOE forecast inflation would top 10 per cent later this year and investors expect the BOE will add to the four interest rate increases it has done since December which took its Bank Rate to 1 per cent, its highest since 2009.
“Things are going to get worse before they get better,” said Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics consultancy of Wednesday’s data.
There were signs of further inflation pressure ahead as manufacturers suffered the joint biggest increase on record in the prices they pay for their inputs which were up by an annual 18.6 per cent, matching March’s high.
Factories increased their prices by 14 per cent over the 12 months to April, the biggest jump since July 2008.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press