The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said inflation remained at a 40-year high in May and deepening the pressure felt by families across the UK.
Statisticians said the consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate rose to 9.1% in May from 9% in April.
According to ONS estimates, the increase matches analysts’ expectation and pushes the measure to its highest level since early 1982.
“Although still at historically high levels, there was little change in the annual inflation rate in May,” said Grant Fitzner, ONS chief economist.
“The persistently sharp food price increase and record high petrol prices from this time compared to last year were offset by an increase in clothing prices and often fluctuating computer game prices.
“The price of goods leaving the factory grew at the fastest rate in 45 years, driven by broader food price increases, while raw material costs rose at the fastest rate on record.”
The ONS said the change was driven largely by a rise in food prices, which added more than 0.2 percentage points to the inflation numbers.
Clothing and shoe prices helped control inflation, while entertainment and culture prices also dragged it down.
This news will add to the difficulties facing many across the UK. The energy bill for the average household rose 54% in early April and will remain at this level through October.
But forecasts released this week predict the government’s cap on energy bills could rise again in the autumn from an already record high of £1,971 to £2,980.
The Bank of England has predicted that inflation will rise by more than 11% in October after the price cap is changed again.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “Today’s rising inflation is another milestone for those who continue to decline wages, growth and living standards.
“While rapid inflation is pushing family finances to the brink, the low wage spiral faced by many in the UK is not new.
“Over the past decade, Tory mismanagement of our economy has meant that living standards and real wages have failed to rise.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “I know people are concerned about the rising cost of living, which is why we have taken targeted action to help families, receiving £1,200 to the eight million most vulnerable families.
“We are using all the tools at our disposal to bring down inflation and counter rising prices – we can build a stronger economy through independent monetary policy, responsible fiscal policy that does not contain inflationary pressures.” enhances, and further growth by enhancing our long-term productivity.”
The cost of electricity is not just filling the household electricity bills.
Gas, oil and other fossil fuels are needed to manufacture and transport many of the items that households buy each month.
When the price of fuel increases, so does the price of the final product.
Energy prices have risen in the past year. They initially began to grow as the global economy began to reopen and as energy demand grew after the pandemic.
Prices subsequently worsened, especially in Europe, when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
Russia is one of the largest energy producers in the world.
The ONS analysis shows that the biggest growth in the 12 months to May was for fossil fuel products including diesel, electricity, petrol and natural gas. However, there was a slight change in these from April.
Some of the biggest changes from April were foods. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain producers and experts are concerned about what the war could do to global prices and availability.
The price of flour and other grains was falling in Britain before the start of the war, but has held up ever since.
The price rose from 2.3% to 9.3% between February and April. But prices jumped in May and are now 16.3 per cent higher than a year ago.
The ONS said the price of olive oil also rose from 9.5% in April to 18% in May.
Statisticians said the consumer price index, which includes the cost of owner occupants of housing (CPIH), rose 7.9% in May, from 7.8% in April.
The retail price index, which is used to calculate train fares, rose from 11.1% in April to 11.7% in May.