Britain's inflation rate soars thanks to food and fuel rises

Maya Driver

While most of us are still struggling to weather the recession storm, supermarkets and energy companies are enjoying something of a financial boom. And it's no surprise when you consider the latest figures released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In fact, significant price increases by supermarkets and energy giants have left us with an inflation rate far above any other European nation.

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January saw a CPI inflation rate of 3.5 per cent and that's two or three times higher than other Western European nations. While Germany's energy prices rose by 1 per cent last year and France experienced a 6.1 per cent rise, UK customers were forced to cope with a whopping 7.8 per cent increase despite wholesale prices plunging.

Scott Byrom, of, told the Daily Mail: "Customers are still paying average gas bills of nearly £800 even though the price of wholesale gas fell by 60 per cent from mid 2008 to the end of 2009."

Of course, the suppliers deny any suggestion of profiteering.

The British Retail Consortium explained that, though food price inflation in January was 2.9 per cent, by February it had fallen to just 1.3 per cent. Similarly, Christine McGourty of Energy UK, insisted that the UK enjoys "one of the most competitive energy markets in the world".

But since many of us are already struggling to pay the bills and retailers are clearly enjoying a profitable year, isn't it time the retail giants rewarded their customers with a little bonus of their own?