Inflation rises to 10.4% in surprise increase

Families are struggling to put food on the table as a surprise rise in inflation causes prices to rocket, as ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills reports.

Inflation for the UK shot up unexpectedly last month as vegetable shortages pushed food prices to their highest rate in more than 45 years, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rose to 10.4% in February from 10.1% in January.

Most economists were expecting CPI to fall to 9.9% in February.

The surprise jump in inflation comes after food and non-alcoholic drinks prices rose by 18% year-on-year last month, up from 16.7% in January and the highest since August 1977.

Shortages of vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, in recent weeks were largely behind the rocketing food inflation.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said that "falling inflation isn’t inevitable", adding: "So we need to stick to our plan to halve it this year.

"We recognise just how tough things are for families across the country, so as we work towards getting inflation under control we will help families with cost-of-living support worth £3,300 on average per household this year."

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: "The reality is that under this Tory government, families are feeling worse off and nothing is working better than it did 13 years ago.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know

"The cost-of-living crisis is still biting hard and taxes are rising, yet the government chose to use the Budget to hand a £1 billion bung to the top 1%."

Meanwhile, Alpesh Paleja, the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) lead economist, said that "while inflation rose in February, the outlook for the months ahead is looking more benign".

"But while we expect inflation to fall back over this year, the firmness in domestic price pressures is something that the Bank of England will be keeping a close eye on," she added.

"And despite further falls over the coming months, this year will still be a high-inflation environment for both households and businesses."