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UK inflation rises to near 30-year high in January

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Inflation hit 5.5% in January, its highest rate since March 1992, as the cost of living in Britain continued to surge, official figures show.

The consumer price index (CPI) measure of inflation, up from 5.4% in December, was in line with economists expectations – as clothing, housing, and furniture prices climbed higher, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

Clothing in particular remained much more expensive than usual for January, when retailers typically discount their prices following Christmas.

“Clothing and footwear pushed inflation up this month and although there were still the traditional price drops, it was the smallest January fall since 1990, with fewer sales than last year,” said Grant Fitzner, chief economist at the ONS.

The Bank of England forecasts that inflation will surpass 7% this spring, which could contribute to the tightest squeeze on living standards in six decades.

Britain’s cost of living squeeze has already seen a spike in prices across the board led by higher household bills but also including rising petrol, energy, and food costs.

It is set to worsen in the spring after Ofgem announced an increase in the energy price cap, which will add around £700 on average to annual gas and electricity charges for millions of consumers.

“Rising inflation highlights both the cost-of-living crisis facing households and the uphill struggle for businesses to keep a lid on price rises amid surging cost pressures,” said Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce.

“While the headline annual figure remains at a 30-year high, the decline in monthly inflation in January offers some hope that we may be nearing the peak in the current spike in inflation.”

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