Government has lost

‘Government on the right track’ to deliver inflation promise as price rises fall slightly, chancellor says

The chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said the government is “on track” to deliver on its promise of halving inflation this year after price rises eased last month.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics this morning showed that the Consumer Prices Index rose by 10.1 per cent in the 12 months to March this year, down from 10.4 per cent in the 12 months to February. It comes after Analysts had forecast a drop to 9.8 per cent for March.

Food prices accelerated at their fastest rate in over 45 years last month, adding to the inflation pain suffered by households.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation jumped to 19.1% per year in March, today’s CPI inflation report shows. That’s up from 18% per year in February.

Food prices alone jumped by 19.6% per year; bread and cereal prices rose by 19.4%, while meat cost 17.4% more than in March 2022 and fish prices jumped 16.7%.

Whole milk prices soared by 37.9%, while eggs rose 32%.

Responding to the new figures, Mr Hunt said: “These figures reaffirm exactly why we must continue with our efforts to drive down inflation so we can ease pressure on families and businesses.

“We are on track to do this — with the OBR forecasting we will halve inflation this year —fons and we’ll continue supporting people with cost-of-living support worth an average of £3,300 per household over this year and last, funded through windfall taxes on energy profits”.

In March, the Bank of England said it expected inflation to “fall significantly” in the second quarter of 2023, meaning, April to June.

Grant Fitzner, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) chief economist, told BBC Radio 4 Today: “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.

“There’s been some strong upward movement in food prices and you would expect to see that reflected in supermarkets but we’re not there yet”, he said.

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said today’s inflation figures showed that prices are still “out of control”.

She said: “The question for families remains as real as ever – when will they feel better off under this Conservative Government?

“And, why when the cost of living continues to bite, is the Government refusing to freeze council tax this year, paid for by a proper windfall tax on oil and gas giants?

“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.

“Labour will stand with working people and with our mission to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7, make families across every part of our country better off.”

In his first speech of 2023, the prime minister urged the public to “trust” him to deliver on five newly announced “people’s priorities”.

“We will halve inflation this year to ease the cost of living and give people financial security”, Mr Sunak said