Monday, May 23, 2022

UK inflation jumps to 6.2%, highest since 1992: data

UK inflation jumps to 6.2%, highest since 1992: data
March 23, 2022 Web Desk

LONDON (AFP) - British inflation accelerated in February to hold at a near three-decade peak on soaring energy prices, official data showed Wednesday before a budget update seeking to ease high living costs.

The annual rate jumped to 6.2 percent last month from 5.5 percent in January, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement ahead of finance minister Rishi Sunak's budget announcement.

The last time the rate was higher was in March 1992 when it had stood at 7.1 percent.

Spiking domestic electricity and gas costs were a key factor in February's broad-based price gains, according to the ONS.

Sunak faces widespread calls, even from fellow Conservative MPs, to help ease Britain's cost of living crisis.

"Inflation rose steeply in February as prices increased for a wide range of goods and services, for products as diverse as food to toys and games," said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.

"Clothing and footwear saw a return to traditional February price rises after last year's falls when many shops were closed.

"Furniture and flooring also contributed to the rise in inflation as prices started to recover following new year sales.

"The price of goods leaving UK factories has also been rising substantially and is now at its highest rate for 14 years."

Economies worldwide are battling decades-high inflation, which has forced central banks including the Bank of England to lift interest rates.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak, who will deliver his budget statement at about 12:45 GMT, has hinted at cutting motor fuel duty.

Russia's Ukraine invasion has meanwhile sent crude oil, domestic energy and food prices rocketing, exacerbating global inflation just as economies recover from the pandemic.