Advertisement

British inflation rate slows, but rocketing food prices keep it in double digits

Accelerating costs of food and non-alcoholic drinks in Britain ensured Consumer Price Inflation stayed in double digits in March. Food price inflation is now at a 45-year high of 19.2%, according to the Office of National Statistics. File photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
1 of 3 | Accelerating costs of food and non-alcoholic drinks in Britain ensured Consumer Price Inflation stayed in double digits in March. Food price inflation is now at a 45-year high of 19.2%, according to the Office of National Statistics. File photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

April 19 (UPI) -- Declining gasoline costs helped Britain's inflation rate fall by 0.3% in March but the pace at which prices are rising remains in double digits due to surging food and drink prices, the country's main statistical agency said Wednesday.

Annual Consumer Price Inflation came in at 10.1% in the 12 months to March, down from 10.4% in February, with prices 0.8% higher on a monthly basis, as the large fuel price increases triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 begin to drop out of the calculation, the latest Office for National Statistics figures show.

Advertisement

However, the inflation rate for food and drink, where prices have remained stubbornly high for months, gathered pace to 19.2% in March, its highest level since 1977.

"The main drivers of the decline were motor fuel prices and heating oil costs, both of which fell after sharp rises at the same time last year. Clothing, furniture and household goods increased, but more slowly than a year ago," said ONS Chief Economist Grant Fitzner.

"However, these were partially offset by the cost of food, which is still climbing steeply, with bread and cereal price inflation at a record high," Fitzner added. "The overall costs facing business have been largely stable since the summer, although prices remain high."

Advertisement

The high rate of inflation, together with annual wage growth of 6.6% in the three months to February, virtually guarantees a 12th consecutive rate hike when the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee meets next month. Bank Rate currently stands at 4.25%, its highest level in 15 years.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the government was pursuing an economic program that would deliver Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's pledge to halve inflation by the end of 2023.

"We have a plan and if we're going to reduce that pressure on families, it's absolutely essential that we stick to that plan, and we see it through so that we halve inflation this year as the prime minister has promised," Hunt told the BBC.

The opposition Labor Party's shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves questioned in a Twitter post when families would begin to feel economic relief.

"The reality is that under the Tories our economy is weaker, prices are out of control and never have people paid so much to get so little in return," Reeves wrote.

Latest Headlines