UK inflation remained in double digits in March with annual price rises of 10.1 per cent, raising the chances of further interest rate rises from the Bank of England.
Consumer price inflation had been 10.4 per cent in February and was expected to drop to 9.8 per cent last month.
Although petrol and diesel prices fell in the month, further sharp rises in the costs of food, recreation and culture left the index in double digits.
The Bank of England had been watching these figures very closely as they were the last significant data release before their next meeting in early May.
Officials had hoped that there would be the first signs of a significant drop in inflationary pressure, but core inflation, excluding food and energy prices remained unchanged at 6.2 per cent, which remains too high to give them comfort.
Grant Fitzner, chief economist of the ONS, said that inflation remained at a “high level”. Falling motor fuel prices “were partially offset by the cost of food, which is still climbing steeply, with bread and cereal price inflation at a record high,” he said.