The cost of living in Britain is forecast to increase even higher in April owing to a tax hike and further planned increases to domestic energy bills, analysts say.

Consumers and businesses in the UK are struggling with surging costs, the ongoing pandemic and supply chain problems.
Consumers and businesses in the UK are struggling with surging costs, the ongoing pandemic and supply chain problems. (AP)

The annual rate of inflation in Britain has risen to a near 30-year high in December, stoking fears about a cost-of-living squeeze as wages fail to keep pace.

Inflation accelerated to 5.4 percent in the 12 months through December, up from November's 5.1 percent, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday. 

Last month's annual figure is the highest since March 1992, when inflation stood at 7.1 percent.

"Food prices again grew strongly while increases in furniture and clothing also pushed up annual inflation," said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.

The Bank of England (BoE), whose chief task is to keep inflation close to 2.0 percent, is now expected to raise rates again at its next meeting in February amid easing concerns over economic fallout from the Omicron coronavirus variant.

On Wednesday, the pound hit a near two-year peak versus the euro on increased expectations of another rate rise, while the European Central Bank has yet to follow the BoE in tightening monetary conditions.

READ MORE: Explained: Europe caught in highest inflation in nearly 30 years

Surging costs

Economies worldwide are battling decades-high inflation that is forcing central banks to lift interest rates, including the BoE which last month raised its key borrowing cost — to 0.25 percent from a record-low level of 0.1 percent — for the first time in more than three years .

The cost of living in Britain is forecast to soar even higher in April owing to a tax hike and further planned increases to domestic energy bills, according to analysts.

National insurance, paid by workers and employers, is being increased to help fund social care for the elderly. Analysts expect more painful tax increases to foot the vast bill for Covid.

In addition, electricity and gas prices are set to rocket higher when the UK government shortly lifts a cap on energy bills amid record-breaking wholesale costs.

"With consumer prices rising at their fastest rate for three decades and wage growth slowing, Britons are being squeezed ever harder by the cost of living," said Jay Mawji, head of trading provider IX Prime.

Consumers and businesses are struggling with surging costs, ongoing pandemic turmoil and supply chain problems.

At the same time, real wages in November fell on the year for the first time since mid-2020, official data showed on Tuesday.

"More pain lies ahead in the form of tax rises in April and a likely 50-percent jump in energy bills," said IX Prime's Mawji.

READ MORE: US consumer prices hit four-decade high in December

Source: TRTWorld and agencies