INFLATION soared upwards last month, with the government’s preferred Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure rising to 4.4 per cent, up from 4 per cent in January.
The Office for National Statistics said the largest inflationary pressures came from basic working class needs.
It said clothing and footwear costs rose by a massive 3.6 per cent in a month, while transport costs rose by 0.8 per cent between January and February, pushed up by a 1.4 per cent increase in petrol pump prices.
Other factors included rising domestic heating costs, financial services costs and the higher cost of books and toys.
However, alcohol prices fell by 1.1 per cent, a record monthly fall, with spirits falling by 5.8 per cent.
Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation – which includes mortgage interest payments – rose to 5.5 per cent from 5.1 per cent in January, the highest rate for 20 years.
‘Inflation has jumped to its highest since October 2008, putting the Bank of England under even greater pressure to demonstrate its commitment to hitting its inflation target by hiking interest rates,’ said Hetal Mehta of Daiwa Capital Markets.
Public sector borrowing last month was £11.8 billion, a record for the month of February.
The official figure, provided by the Office for National Statistics, was nearly double the £6.9 billion forecast by economists.
Public sector net borrowing now stands at £123.5 billion for the financial year so far.