UK inflation hits fresh 40-year high in May

UK inflation rose to a fresh 40-year high in May as energy and food prices continued to surge, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics.
Consumer price inflation ticked up to 9.1% from 9% in April, in line with analysts’ estimates and hitting the highest level since March 1982.

The ONS said rising prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages, compared with falls a year ago, resulted in the largest upward contribution to the change in both the CPIH and CPI 12-month inflation rates between April and May 2022.

ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner said: “Though still at historically high levels, the annual inflation rate was little changed in May.

“Continued steep food price rises and record high petrol prices were offset by clothing costs rising by less than this time last year and a drop in often fluctuating computer games prices.

“The price of goods leaving factories rose at their fastest rate in 45 years, driven by widespread food price rises, while the cost of raw materials leapt at their fastest rate on record.”

On a monthly basis, consumer price inflation rose 0.7% in May, up from 0.6%.

After lifting interest rates to a 13-year high of 1.25% last week, the Bank of England warned that inflation could hit 11% this autumn. This was up from a previous forecast of 10% inflation.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The latest temperature check of the UK economy shows the mercury rising again, with no end yet in sight to feverish price rises.

“May’s rise in inflation was smaller compared to the jump we saw in April, so although the pace of rate rises looks set to continue, the Bank may hold off from bringing in a larger hike of 0.5% for the time being. The pound has slipped back against the dollar, down to $1.22 compared to $1.23 earlier yesterday and worries are mounting that this could flame inflation further by making imported goods even more expensive.”

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