UK factories were also been hit by surging raw material costs, and continued to lift their own prices.
Input costs paid by producers rose by 19.2% in the year to March, the ONS reports, the highest rate since records began in January 1997.
In March alone, the rate of input inflation was 5.2%, up from 1.8% in February, which is also a record increase.
Metal products and crude oil were the main factors, due to the surge in commodity prices since the Ukraine war began.
The ONS says:
Crude oil and gas prices continue to rise, driven in part by global geopolitical tensions, including the conflict in Ukraine and trade restrictions with Russia.
These rises are passing through to factory gate prices for heavy industry, such as the manufacture of metal products, reflecting the importance of oil and fuel in their input costs.
Producers increased output prices by 11.9% compared to a year ago (the highest rate since September 2008), which will feed through to higher prices for consumers.
These charts highlight how prices have been surging:
Energy costs have also soared over the last year.
Gas prices were 28.3% higher in March than a year ago, while electricity was 19.2% higher.
That, though, doesn’t include the latest increase in the price cap, which lifted average bills by 54% for around 22 million households this month.
The inflation report also that prices of kerosene for domestic heating rose by 44.0% between February and March 2022. Heating oil is not covered by the Ofgem price cap, so households who rely on kerosene (often in rural areas) have seen cost spiral in recent months.
The jump in motor fuel prices to record highs drove inflation up in March, the Office for National Statistics reports.
Average petrol prices were 160.2p per litre in March 2022, compared with 123.7 pence per litre a year earlier.
Diesel also hit a record in March, at 170.5p per litre, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drove up oil prices.
The ONS says:
Average petrol prices rose by 12.6 pence per litre between February and March 2022, the largest monthly rise on record (since 1990). This compares with a rise of 3.5 pence per litre between the same months of 2021.
Similarly, diesel prices rose by 18.8 pence per litre this year, compared with a rise of 3.5 pence per litre a year ago.
ONS chief economist, Grant Fitzner, says ‘broad based’ price rises drove inflation up to 7% last month.
Introduction: UK inflation hits 7%
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of business, the world economy and the financial markets.
UK inflation has accelerated to a new 30-year high, deepening the cost of living crisis.
Consumer prices jumped by 7% in the year to March, up from 6.2% in February, figures just released show, as living standards continue to be squeezed.
That’s the highest CPI inflation rate since March 1992, and higher than expected, as energy, fuel and food continue to rise sharply.
On a monthly basis, CPI rose by 1.1% during March.
This jump in inflation means workers are taking a real terms pay cut. Total pay (including bonuses) rose by 5.4% per year in the three months to February, while regular pay rose 4%.
Inflation is expected to rise again in April, possibly over 8%, due to the 54% increase in the energy cap. That will intensify the pressure on households, with economists predicting this will be the worst parliament on record for living standards growth.
Inflation is hitting business confidence too. Sentiment among financial services firms has dropped at its quickest pace since September 2019, the latest CBI/PwC Financial Services Survey released this morning found.
Inflation is also a global problem right now – in America it climbed to 8.5% last month, a 40-year high, as gasoline and food prices jumped.
And overnight, it has prompted New Zealand’s central bank to raise interest rates by half a percentage point, its biggest increase in 22 years, after inflation there hit 5.9%
- 7am BST: UK consumer inflation report for March
- 7am BST: UK producer prices inflation report for March
- 9am BST: IEA releases monthly oil report
- 9.30am BST: UK house price index for February
- 3pm BST: Bank of Canada sets interest rates