UK inflation hits 40-year high amid Russia’s war in Ukraine

LONDON — Britain’s inflation rate rose to the highest level in 40 years last month as Russia’s war in Ukraine fueled further increases in food and fuel prices.

Consumer price inflation accelerated to 9% in the 12 months through April, up from 7% the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said today. That is the highest rate since 1982, when inflation reached 11%, according to statistical modeling by the agency.

The figures will increase pressure on the government to mitigate a cost-of-living crisis that economists forecast will produce the biggest drop in living standards since the 1950s.

Millions of households across Britain were hit with a 54% jump in gas and electricity bills last month after regulators boosted the energy price cap to reflect increases in wholesale prices. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put further pressure on food and energy prices.

The government may cut income taxes and is drawing up plans to boost subsidies for low-income people struggling to pay fuel bills, British media reported. It is considering a tax on windfall profits of energy companies benefiting from high oil and gas prices.

Inflation is soaring worldwide, with the United States reporting a near four-decade high rate of 8.3% last month. The 19 countries that use the euro have seen inflation records for months, but the European Union’s statistics agency on Wednesday revised down its initial 7.5% figure for April to 7.4%. That keeps the annual rate steady with March, Eurostat said.

Central banks worldwide have moved to combat soaring consumer prices by raising interest rates. The U.S. Federal Reserve raised its key rate this month for the first time since 2000 and suggested it would continue to do so, while the Bank of England has been even more aggressive.

The bank has raised its key rate four times since December, reaching its highest level in 13 years this month.