UK inflation has surged to a fresh 40-year high amid soaring food prices, heaping yet more pain on cash-strapped West of England households as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.

The ONS said today (Wednesday 17 August) inflation had hit double digits in July, rising to 10.1%, up from 9.4% in June and remaining at the highest level since February 1982. When prices were last rising this fast, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister and The Jam were top of the charts.

Increased food costs were the biggest driver to the latest hike, according to the ONS, with the annual inflation for these items now running at 12.7%, up from 9.8% in June, fuelled largely by price rises for everyday basics like bread, milk, cheese and eggs.

The sobering ONS stats comes after separate data released yesterday showed workers had suffered a record real-term wage slump in the face of spiralling prices.

Yet economists fear inflation, the rate at which prices rise, will climb further in the months ahead. The Bank of England estimates it could reach 13.3% in October if the regulator Ofgem hikes the price cap on energy bills to around £3,450 from the current £1,971 rate as expected.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said July’s inflation rate and the need to avoid the Bank of England’s ‘nightmare’ 13.3% scenario necessitated the next Prime Minister to look again at Labour’s radical package of measures to help families cope this winter. He said: “The West of England is facing the worst cost-of-living crisis on record, yet Boris Johnson has seemingly clocked out early while the Tory leadership candidates are too busy fighting each other to care or even notice. Local people already worried sick about making ends meet will be even more concerned after today’s figures. They need a government that gets it and understands that an emergency situation requires an emergency response, particularly if we are to avoid the 13.3% inflation nightmare come October. The next prime minister must look again at Labour’s fully-costed plan to freeze the energy price cap so households won’t pay a penny more for their energy bills which will bring inflation down this winter and finally kickstart our recovery”.

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