UK inflation slowed last month on the back of lower petrol prices but remained in double figures as household budgets continue to come under pressure.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation fell to 10.1% in March from 10.4% in February.
Nevertheless, it remained higher than experts had predicted as food and drink prices continued to soar.
Economists had forecast inflation would be 9.8% for the month.
The high level of inflation continues to keep pressure on the Bank of England regarding interest rates, with inflation still heavily above the 2% target rate.
The ONS revealed food prices increased by 19.1% year-on-year, the sharpest jump since August 1977.
Bread, cereals and fruit prices increased, while the impact of vegetable shortages also continued to weigh on inflation.
This was partly offset by lower fuel costs, with petrol and diesel costs down 5.9% against the same month last year after prices had spiked following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner said: “Inflation eased slightly in March, but remains at a high level.
“The main drivers of the decline were motor fuel prices and heating oil costs, both of which fell after sharp rises at the same time last year.
“Clothing, furniture and household goods prices increased, but more slowly than a year ago.”
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “These figures reaffirm exactly why we must continue with our efforts to drive down inflation so we can ease pressure on families and businesses.
“We are on track to do this – with the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) forecasting we will halve inflation this year – and we’ll continue supporting people with cost-of-living support worth an average of £3,300 per household over this year and last, funded through windfall taxes on energy profits.”
Kitty Ussher, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: “Business remains extremely concerned by the rate of inflation and wants to see it under control.
“While it is a relief that the headline rate of inflation is now pointing downwards again, following the surprise rise last month, the Bank of England’s job is not yet done.”