Published:  01:16 AM, 19 May 2022

UK inflation jumps to 40-year peak

Britain's annual inflation rate surged to a 40-year high last month on rocketing energy costs, official data showed Wednesday (May 18), sparking opposition calls for the government to announce an emergency budget to combat a cost-of-living crisis.

Consumer prices index inflation hit 9 per cent in April from 7 per cent in March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement. The ONS estimated that April was the highest level since 1982, and the fastest rate since the current data series began in 1989.

Nations across the world are plagued by decades-high inflation as the Ukraine conflict pushes up energy and food prices, in turn forcing the Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve and others to ramp up interest rates. The squeeze on UK household budgets tightened further in April due to tax hikes, while wages are failing to keep pace with inflation. "Countries around the world are dealing with rising inflation," said British finance minister Rishi Sunak.

"Today's inflation numbers are driven by the energy price cap rise in April, which in turn is driven by higher global energy prices.

"We cannot protect people completely from these global challenges but are providing significant support where we can, and stand ready to take further action."

The main opposition Labor party, however, wants an emergency budget to help Britons cope with the cost-of-living crunch.

Labor finance spokeswoman Rachel Reeves described the inflation data as "a huge worry for families already stretched".

"Today, Labor forces a vote for an emergency budget and for a plan for growth."

Labor is also calling for a windfall tax on the energy sector, which has been boosted as gas and oil prices rocketed on supply worries following key producer Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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