Inflation reaches 4.5 per cent

The ONS claims that air transport, alcohol, tobacco and gas were the most significant drivers behind the increase in inflation between March and April, most notably due to Easter rises in prices.

The largest downward pressures came from petrol & diesel, miscellaneous goods & services, clothing & footwear and communication.

The retail prices index measure of inflation which includes mortgage interest payments dropped a tenth of a per cent to 5.2%.

Housing & household services prices rose by 0.8% overall between March and April where the largest upward effects came from rental costs for housing from local authorities in England and Wales and registered social landlords and charges for water supply and sewerage collection.

In his letter to the chancellor George Osbourne, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, said that high inflation was due to the increase in VAT to 20% in January, higher energy prices and increases in import prices.

April marks the 17th consecutive month that the inflation rate was at least one percentage point above target.

Commenting, Paul Hunt, managing director of Phoebus Software, said: “These inflation numbers will put lenders on a sticky wicket. Chelsea has just announced a fixed rate below 4%, but that now looks like extraordinary value for borrowers as the call to raise the base rate is sure to get much louder.

“Although the Bank has predicted inflation could rise even further before the year is out, the theory that growth is being protected by the low Bank rate is now being tested to the limit. Whether the Monetary Policy Committee will in practice be as bold as King has suggested is yet to be seen, but lenders know that as March’s fall in inflation now appears merely a blip in the continuing rise of inflation, the pressure to raise rates will become intense.”

Max Johnson, corporate broker at Currency Solutions, added: "Mervyn King's wiggle room created by last month's surprise fall in inflation has now been taken away. The Bank is back to square one.

"The Pound spiked in the moments after the announcement by around 0.3% but began to fall back as quickly as it had risen. Sterling has had no end of false starts in recent months. One minute interest rate rises are imminent, the next they are unlikely any time soon.

"The markets are disinclined to read too much into any specific data set these days. Deviation is the new norm. A rate rise is the obvious solution to rapidly increasing inflationary pressures but with the UK economy in the state it is the most obvious solution could also be the least sensible."