Ministers' tripling of tuition fees backfired on them today when official figures showed the plan to shut people out of higher education had sent inflation soaring.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped half a percentage point in October to 2.7 per cent, which the Official for National Statistics said was largely caused by raising the tuition fee cap to £9,000.
And the Retail Price Index (RPI), which includes housing costs, shot up to 3.2 per cent from 2.6 per cent - its largest increase for two years and mostly down to higher mortgage rates.
It comes just weeks after David Cameron crowed that inflation was falling and there was more good news to come.
The rate at which prices are rising is now at its highest since July.
Unison leader Dave Prentis said it showed the coalition's austerity agenda is "choking real growth and creating long-term unemployment.
"The rise in inflation will come as no surprise to families struggling to pay costly energy and food bills.
"Christmas should be a time of celebration but many people are dreading the pressure it will put on their finances.
"There is a very real danger the rise in inflation will tip family budgets over the edge and into the arms of unscrupulous pay-day loan companies."
National Union of Students president Liam Burns said: "The government told us that trebled tuition fees were a necessity to save money but it will actually cost ordinary taxpayers billions more."
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "We are in a desperate situation where millions of working people and their families are juggling rising food and energy bills. Where families lead in suffering, shops and businesses will follow.
"With further energy price rises due in the next couple of months, a bleak mid-winter can expected by millions whose lives have been made a misery by ministers."
Official figures showed that education costs jumped by 19.1 per cent last month - the largest increase since records began.
Vegetable prices also rose after the record wet weather earlier this year left Britain with its worst potato and carrot harvest in living memory.
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