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The Consumer Price Index showed that inflation rose to 1.6% in December last year, from 1.2% in November, the Office for National Statistics has said.
It is the highest rate of inflation since July 2014, and outperformed economists' median forecast of 1.4%.
The rise has been blamed partly on the rise of air fares and food prices.
ONS head of inflation Mike Prestwood said: "This is the highest CPI has been for over two years, though the annual rate remains below the Bank of England's target and low by historical standards.
"Rising air fares and food prices, along with petrol prices falling less than last December, all helped to push up the rate of inflation.
"Rising raw material costs also continued to push up the prices of goods leaving factories."
It comes a day after Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned the depreciation of sterling following a vote for Brexit may have a delayed impact on wages and consumer spending.
The increase in spending on essential items suggests consumers face inflationary rises on the price of goods.Read the full story ›
Inflation rose by 0.3% to 1.2% between October and November.Read the full story ›