The Office for National Statistics said consumer price inflation hit 9% in April, surpassing even the peaks of the recession in the early 1990s that many Britons remember due to ultra-high interest rates and widespread mortgage defaults.
A Reuters poll of economists had indicated a reading of 9.1%. Sterling was lower after the data and fell 0.4% against the US dollar.
Sunak said that countries around the world are suffering from high rates of inflation.
“We cannot fully protect people from these global challenges but we are providing great support wherever we can, and we are ready to take further action,” he said.
Anti-poverty activists have called for him to act now, starting with an immediate increase in the value of welfare benefits to keep pace with inflation.
“With prices of essentials such as food and energy continuing to rise, [Sunak’s] Inaction will make an already desperate situation for many worse, said Rebecca MacDonald, chief economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which campaigns for low-income families.
A survey published on Tuesday showed that two out of three people in Britain were turning off their heating, almost half were driving fewer cars or changing supermarkets, and just over a quarter said they had skipped meals.
Earlier this month, the Bank of England expected inflation to reach 10% later this year, and investors are expecting the BoE to add to the four rate increases it has made since December, which raised the bank rate to 1% – It is the highest level since 2009.
“Things will get worse before they get better,” Paul Dills, chief UK economist at consultancy Capital Economics said on Wednesday’s data.
There were signs of more inflation pressures ahead as manufacturers suffered their biggest ever combined increase in the prices they pay for their inputs which rose 18.6% annually, matching the highest level in March.
Factories raised their prices by 14% in the 12 months through April, the largest jump since July 2008.
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