Britain recorded its sharpest inflation drop since the start of the cost of living crisis, with the annual rate falling to 8.7% in April, but food prices continued to rise at the fastest pace in 45 years.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said annual inflation, measured by the consumer price index, fell below double digits for the first time since August from 10.1 per cent in March. Inflation peaked at 11.1% in October.
Food and non-alcoholic beverage prices surged 19% in the 12 months to April, offset by higher costs in day stores, but the sharp drop came as households’ record energy price hikes from a year ago were not repeated.
ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner said:
Reflecting stubbornly high levels of inflation as headline rates cooled more slowly than expected, city economists predicted a larger drop to 8.2% in April. The news comes as economists warn that Rishi Sunak’s target of halving inflation this year will be met within a finer-than-expected range.
The figure is likely to reinforce expectations that the Bank of England will raise rates further at its next meeting to determine borrowing costs in June, prolonging its most aggressive inflation attack in decades. The central bank said earlier this month that it expected inflation to fall to 8.4 per cent in April.
According to ONS’ latest snapshot, electricity and gas prices contributed about 1.4 percentage points to the annual decline in inflation.
This was the fastest annual rate since 1977, partially offset by continued increases in food prices, rising costs for recreation and culture, alcohol and tobacco, and telecommunications and transportation, he said.
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Shadow Prime Minister Rachel Reeves said: As bills continue to soar, families will worry that the cost of food and other necessities is still rising. They will ask why this Conservative government still refuses to properly tackle this cost-of-living crisis, and why it does not impose an appropriate serendipitous tax on the huge profits of oil and gas giants.
Prime Minister Jeremy Hunt said: “Yesterday the IMF said we took decisive action to deal with inflation. It’s positive that it’s in the single digits now, but food prices are still rising too fast.”
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