The CPI annual inflation rate has jumped to 4.4 per cent in February, its highest level since 2008, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The rate is up from 4 per cent in January 2011 and has been driven by domestic heating costs and clothing. RPI now stands at 5.5 per cent, up from 5.1 per cent in January.
The increase may place further pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates.
Last month, Bank of England governor Mervyn King said inflation was likely to remain well above target for this year, before falling back in 2012, based on bank rate increases “in line with market expectations”.
He said: “Although one cannot be sure, prices excluding the effects of these factors would probably have increased at a rate well below the 2 per cent inflation target.
“Inflation is likely to continue to pick up to somewhere between 4 per cent and 5 per cent over the next few months. That primarily reflects further pass through from recent increases in world commodity and energy prices.
“The MPC’s-central judgment, under the assumption that bank rate increases in line with market expectations, remains that, as the temporary effects of the factors listed above wane, inflation will fall back so that it is about as likely to be above the target as below it two to three years ahead.”