Inflation falls to lowest level in almost three years

Inflation falls to lowest level in almost three years

21 minutes agoBy Tom Espiner, BBC business reporter • Faisal Islam, Economics editor, @faisalislamGetty Images

Inflation has hit the Bank of England’s target for the first time in almost three years.

Prices rose at 2% in the year to May, down from 2.3% the month before, official figures show.

The economy is a key talking point in the run-up to the general election on 4 July, with all of the main parties debating how they would keep the cost of living under control.

It comes ahead of a Bank of England decision on UK interest rates this Thursday.

The bank is expected to hold the rate at 5.25% for the seventh meeting in a row, with markets not betting on a cut until August.

The drop in May’s figure was driven by a slowdown in price rises for food and soft drinks, recreation and culture, and furniture and household goods.

Inflation hit 11.1% – its highest level in over 40 years – in October 2022 as energy and food prices surged due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

May’s figures are the last big official economic statistics of the general election campaign and will be sure to spark a significant debate among the main parties.

The Conservatives will hope the figures can help its story of an economic turnaround.

Labour will continue to press concerns about an ongoing cost of living crisis.

Food prices are still 25% higher than at the beginning of 2022 and petrol prices are now on the way up again.

‘You can’t pass all costs onto customers’

Gary Wildman, the owner of John Wildman & Sons butchers, told the BBC he had seen price rises levelling out at the store he started with his dad 31 years ago in Rusington, West Sussex.

“Prices are probably 10 to 15% more than they were at the beginning of Covid, but they are level now, definitely,” he told the BBC.

However, he said some products such as pork were still going up while the shop’s energy bills were higher than a few years ago.

“You do take a hit to your margins,” he said. “You can’t pass all costs onto customers or the customers wouldn’t come in.”

UK inflation is now rising at its slowest pace since July 2021.

It is also lower than in the eurozone and the US, where rates in May were 2.6% and 3.3% respectively.

Italy is now the only G7 advanced economy to have lower inflation than the UK.

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