UK inflation falls to 2.3% in April but Jeremy Hunt warns 'cost of living crisis not over'

22 May 2024, 07:05 | Updated: 22 May 2024, 08:33

The rate of UK inflation has fallen to the lowest rate in three years
The rate of UK inflation has fallen to the lowest rate in three years. Picture: Alamy

By Flaminia Luck and Kit Heren

UK inflation fell to the lowest level in nearly three years in April as energy prices continued to cool, but the Chancellor warned that the cost of living crisis was not over.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation slowed to 2.3% in April, down from 3.2% in March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Wednesday morning.

It marks the lowest level since July 2021 when inflation was recorded at 2% - the Bank of England's target level.

Read more: Your morning news briefing, Wednesday May 22 2024: Inflation boost for Rishi, Royal Rift and Rain

Read more: Reeves accuses Sunak of gaslighting Britain on economy as research claims Inflation 'costs UK same as 1% tax hike'

Watch Again: Chancellor of the Exchequer speaks to LBC as the UK inflation rate falls

Asked if the cost of living crisis was over, Mr Hunt told LBC's Nick Ferrari: "I don’t think you can say that, because although it’s very encouraging news for people who are worried about cost of living pressures - I mean inflation is now lower than it is in the Eurozone, France, Italy - and that is encouraging... prices are still higher in absolute terms than they were a year ago, and so people still feel those pressures."

He added that it would be "encouraging for families" that on Tuesday "the International Monetary Fund confirmed that they think the UK economy will grow faster than any large economy or Japan over the next five, six years - and they think the outlook is good for the UK economy."

Mr Hunt said: "So I think we have turned a corner but I think it will take time for people [to] actually feel it.

In response to the latest inflation figures, a Treasury spokesperson said: "We rightly protected millions of jobs during Covid and paid half of people's energy bills after Putin's invasion of Ukraine sent bills skyrocketing - but it wouldn't be fair to leave future generations to pick up the tab.

"That's why we must stick to the plan to get debt falling. The economy is turning a corner, with strong growth this quarter and inflation close to target, allowing us to cut taxes for the average worker by £900 a year."

However, the latest inflation figures are not the time for ministers to be "taking a victory lap", according to Rachel Reeves.

In a statement released in response to the latest figures, the shadow chancellor said: "Inflation has fallen, but now is not the time for Conservative ministers to be popping champagne corks and taking a victory lap.

"After 14 years of Conservative chaos families are worse off. Prices in the shops have soared, mortgage bills have risen and taxes are at a 70-year high. Rishi Sunak is now putting family finances at risk again with his £46 billion unfunded policy to abolish national insurance that will mean higher borrowing, higher taxes or the end of the state pension as we know it.

"It's time for change. Labour's first steps will deliver economic stability so we can grow our economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible."

Some commentators said the figures would not signal the end to the cost of living. Ben Harrison, Director of the Work Foundation at Lancaster University, said: “Workers across the country might be quietly relieved that their bills and shopping are rising at the lowest level since 2021.

"But even at 2.3%, inflation remains above the Bank of England’s target and many people will be facing lower living standards for some time to come."

Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Paul Nowak said: "The cost-of-living crisis is not over - no matter how much ministers pretend it is. Prices are still going up. Food and energy bills are much higher than a couple of years ago. And many are being hit by soaring mortgage repayments."

He continued: "That's because household budgets have been decimated by the highest price rises in the G7 and wages have flatlined over the last 14 years.

"Pay packets are still worth less today than in 2008, with working people on course to end this Parliament poorer than at the start. Make no mistake - the Tories have delivered the worst period for living standards in generations."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Jay Slater (main) and Tenerife police hin ting for the missing Brit

Jay Slater detectives find different missing Briton while searching Tenerife gorge

Tommy Robinson has been arrested

Tommy Robinson arrested in Canada for immigration offences and stripped of passport

Exclusive
Home Secretary James Cleverly (left) and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper take part in a live immigration debate on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast at Global Studios in Leicester Square, London. Picture date: Tuesday June 25, 2024.

James Cleverly debates Yvette Cooper on immigration | Watch Again

Exclusive
Home Secretary James Cleverly (left) and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper take part in a live immigration debate on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast

Yvette Cooper says Labour will 'work with other countries' on migrant returns despite pledging to axe Rwanda scheme

The Tories have withdrawn support for two candidates being investigated over betting allegations.

Tories withdraw support for candidates caught up in election betting scandal

Yvette Cooper has dismissed claims made by James Cleverley on LBC

Yvette Cooper dismisses claims migrants are sitting in France 'waiting for Labour government'

Yvette Cooper slammed Just Stop Oil as 'pathetic'

Yvette Cooper slams 'pathetic' Just Stop Oil as she brands Stonehenge stunt a 'total disgrace'

Exclusive
James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper clashed on immigration

Labour will open door to 100,000 more migrants, James Cleverly claims, as Yvette Cooper accuses him of lying

Exclusive
James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

Labour won't get rid of 'incredibly expensive' Bibby Stockholm on day one, says Yvette Cooper

Hot weather has hit the UK

Exact date 35C 'pulses' from Europe to boost UK's sweltering heatwave, as temperatures soar

Lord Robertson said it is "total nonsense" that the West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

Nigel Farage is 'cuddling up to the Kremlin', says ex-Nato boss amid claims West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

Sir Keir Starmer has told a headteacher that her private school should ‘work to ensure costs are kept affordable for parents’.

Private schools must ‘ensure costs are kept affordable for parents’, Starmer tells headteacher amid plans for tax raid

Exclusive
Jordan McSweeney and Damien Bendall both committed murders while on probation

One person a week killed by criminal on probation, as ex-Victims Commissioner slams failure to protect public's safety

Tom Hilton said internet sleuths should 'show some respect'

'Show some respect': Teenager wounded in machete attack by Jay Slater gang tells internet sleuths 'to help find him'

Live
James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper clash.

General Election LIVE: Cooper and Cleverly clash in LBC immigration debate as Tories drop Gamblegate candidates

Rishi Sunak Holds Campaign Event In London

Metropolitan Police denies 'leaking names' of Conservatives suspected of betting on election date