BRITAIN faces “sleepwalking into a living-standards crisis” with inflation at its highest since 2013, the TUC warned yesterday.
Fuel and food prices have pushed inflation higher than expected, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
The Consumer Price Index reached 2.3 per cent for February, above the Bank of England’s 2 per cent target and also well above January’s 1.8 per cent rate.
Costs of importing food have soared because the pound’s decline since the EU referendum and weather conditions in southern Europe have badly affected crops, resulting in shortages — the cost of lettuce has shot up by nearly 70 per cent.
The price of food rose by 0.3 per cent in the year up to February, having fallen for 31 consecutive months.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working people across the UK are now facing the double blow of rising prices and slower wage growth. If the government doesn’t wake up, we risk sleepwalking into another living standards crisis.”
New Economics Foundation senior economist Stephen Devlin said costs were continuing to outstrip wages for the majority of households.
He said: “Millions are struggling under record levels of debt. Nominal wages have failed to keep up with rising costs for well over a decade now and the consequences will be inevitably felt most keenly by those on low incomes.
“The Prime Minister and Chancellor have sought to paint a rosy picture of Britain’s economic outlook ahead of Brexit, but these figures are a stark reminder of the reality: rising costs, debts and growing risk of stagflation.”