Fuel prices are driving the fastest price rises for UK consumers in 30 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The UK inflation rate rose to 7% in the year to March 2022 as prices grew faster than wages, putting pressure on the government to do more to help those struggling.
Fuel had the biggest impact on the inflation rate, with average petrol prices rising by 12.6p per litre between February and March, the largest monthly rise since records began. The cost of living is expected to rise even further as spiralling fuel costs impact the supply of other goods and services such as food, furniture and eating out and UK householders feel the impact of the increased energy price cap on their gas and electricity bills.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is also adding to the pain felt by UK consumers as the price of oil and other commodities climb higher. Ukraine and Russia are also the world’s main suppliers of sunflower oil and the conflict has led to a 7.2% increase in the price of oils and fats in food production. Other food stuffs such as wheat-based products, chicken and fish are also experiencing increased production costs. Whilst the industry can absorb some of the increases, it is inevitable that some of the costs will be passed on to consumers.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak acknowledged the pressure on families, commenting; “I know this is a worrying time for many families, which is why we are taking action to ease the burdens by providing support worth around £22bn in this financial year, including for the most vulnerable through our household support fund. We’re also helping as many people as possible into work – the best way for families to gain economic security in the longer term.”
His words will come as cold comfort to some however, as the ONS reported that there were ‘no large offsetting downward contributions’ to the inflation rate, or in other words, predicting that nothing was going to get significantly cheaper. In fact, the Bank of England has warned that inflation is on track to reach 8% by the end of April and possibly 10% by the end of 2022.