UK Inflations Unchanged at 0.3%
According to the Office for National Statistics – ONS, UK inflation, measured by the Consumer Prices Index remained unchanged at 0.3% in February. There was a big rise in vegetables though the transport cost had dropped as per ONS. The annual inflation was below the target of 2% of Bank of England for two years and last year it had been zero. Last month the Bank had stated that it predicted inflation to remain below 1% this year.
Other figures of ONS published at the same time showed that Chancellor George Osborne had been close to missing his target in cutting the budget deficit of the country in 2015-16 financial years. According to ONS, borrowing of the government dropped than anticipated in February which brought the overall deficit so far to £70 for the 11 months of the year, as against the chancellor’s full-year target of £72.2bn.
The borrowing figures could mean that the government could borrow on additional £1.5bn this month if it intends to avoid exceeding the forecast set by the Office for Budget Responsibility during the last week’s Budget. Recent ONS’s release revised January’s borrowing by 2.6bn and even though next month’s figure exceeds the forecast, there is a possibility of waiting longer for confirmation.
Difficulties in Implementing Some of the Planned Budget Cuts
Chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, David Kern, stated that while there is a gradual progress in reducing the deficit, the timetables outlined in the Budget last week tends to be ambitious and the return to surplus could take a bit longer than the chancellor hopes.
He further added that `the difficulties in implementing some of the planned budget cuts would increase the problem’. Under the single Retail Prices Index – RPI measure including housing cost, inflation was 1.3% in February, which also remained unchanged from the previous month. According to the ONS, the biggest downward pressure on the inflation rate was from the transport segment with the changes in prices for items like road passenger transport, second hand cars and bicycles.
There was a drop in prices for toothpaste together with other personal care products, though higher prices for vegetables, milk, eggs and cheese compensated for those declines.
Britain’s vote on European Union Membership – Hit UK Economic Growth
An increase was also seen in hotel accommodation and restaurant bills along with the price of furniture as well as household equipment. Lower oil prices kept a cover on inflation leaving the central bank in no haste to increase the rates beyond 0.5% which remained there for almost seven years. The unmoved level of inflation of February comes after three months of increased consumer prices.
Clothing prices had been up by 0.4% when compared to last year while gas prices had dropped by 6% over the same period after energy giant E. ON’s decision to reduce the cost of gas by 5.1% for two million customers last month. The inflation announcement was made after the Bank of England had voted to maintain the rates on hold once more this month and cautioned that Britain’s vote on its European Union membership could hit UK economic growth.