Higher energy bills and transport costs drive up United Kingdom inflation

23 May, 2019, 06:24 | Author: Regina Silva

Inflation has edged above the Bank of England's 2 per cent target, increasing pressure on its monetary policy committee to raise interest rates.

Surging gas and electricity prices have pushed inflation to its highest level this year, with the Consumer Prices Index hitting 2.1pc in April.

Rising energy prices and air fares, which were influenced by the timing of Easter, produced the largest upward contributions to change in the rate between March and April. Peter Earl, the head of energy at comparethemarket.com, said: "Energy costs were a major driver in the spike in inflation - and the rise in these costs is partly attributable to Ofgem's energy price cap increase". Economists had anticipated that the lifting of the cap would add 0.3 percentage...

House prices rose 1.4 per cent in March compared with the same month a year ago, up from 1 per cent in February, according to the ONS. Computer game and package holiday prices helped to offset the impact of the higher bills. This was one of the first increases after nearly three years of decline in house price inflation in the wake of the June 2016 Brexit referendum - although house price inflation remains well below the rate of earnings growth. Core inflation, which does not include energy and food, remained steady at 1.8%.

A recent weakening of inflation, combined with the lowest unemployment rate in 44 years and rising wages, has taken the edge off the uncertainty about Brexit for many households whose spending drives Britain's economy. Electricity prices rose at their fastest rate since 2011 last month, following an increase in prices on the wholesale markets.

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"In principle, this is another reason to think the Bank of England will keep rates on hold for the foreseeable future", ING economist James Smith said.

The ONS said electricity and gas prices rose between March and April 2019 by 10.9% and 9.3%, respectively.

But Samuel Tombs, chief United Kingdom economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the MPC could not be complacent about price rises and that he expects a rate rise in November.

The latest official figures show that borrowing in the full 2018-19 financial year was £23.5bn, compared with a forecast of £22.8bn - a little worse than the £22.8bn predicted by the OBR in the March Spring Statement.

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