Britain suffering unique ‘labour market shock’ from wave of early retirement and long-term sickness, says Andrew Bailey

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The soaring cost of dairy products, pasta, and energy boosted inflation to a fresh four-decade high in October despite government help to slash bills.

Prices rose by 11.1pc last month as the cost of living crisis deepened for households, up from an increase of 10.1pc the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It was the highest rate of inflation since 1981, while living costs were up 2pc compared to the previous month.

The latest increase was driven by the biggest surge in grocery bills since the late 1970s and higher energy costs even after the Government introduced a £2,500 cap on average gas and electricity prices. 

Food prices rose by 16.5pc year-on-year after an enormous jump in the price of milk, cheese, pasta, eggs and oils. Low-fat milk was up 48pc, cheese rose 27pc and pasta and couscous climbed 34pc.

The consumer prices index measure of inflation had reached 10.1pc last month, having returned to its previous high set in July after unexpectedly dipping to 9.9pc in August.

The latest increase in the year to October will hit consumers as they prepare for the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Thursday.

Jeremy Hunt has warned that “we’re going to be asking everyone to contribute more”.

Rising inflation will also put pressure on the Bank of England to continue raising interest rates when it meets on Dec 15, following its 0.75 percentage point rise to 3pc earlier this month, hitting its highest level in 14 years.

Gas and electricity prices were the biggest factor. This graph shows how inflation has surged in the last two years:

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