The UK inflation rate unexpectedly rose in August to 2.7%, the highest level in six months.
Economists had expected a Consumer Prices Index rate of 2.4%. The pound rose after the data was released by the Office for National Statistics.
Wages are still rising more than inflation, with data last week showing wages, excluding bonuses, grew by 2.9% in the three months to July.
Rising prices for recreational goods, transport and clothing drove the rise.
In July, CPI was 2.5%, which had been the first jump in the index since November.
Mike Hardie, head of inflation at the ONS, said: “Consumers paid more for theatre shows, sea fares and new season autumn clothing last month.
“However, mobile phone charges, and furniture and household goods had a downward effect on inflation.”
Prices rose less sharply for furniture, household goods and communications.
The year-on-year rise in CPI in August meant that inflation was narrowing the gap with wage increases, with economists waiting for the August earnings figures.
“Today’s inflation data show the rate of price growth accelerated in August, and may well prove to have exceeded total earnings growth in the same period. Unless UK workers can increase their productivity, this trend is likely to continue – squeezing living standards over the medium term,” said Alastair Neame, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
Sterling rose to $1.32 following the news, its highest level since July.
“The numbers reinforce expectations that policymakers will gently lift interest rates over the next couple of years,” said Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown.
The Bank of England raised its key interest rate for only the second time in a decade last month. The current interest rate of 0.75% is the highest since March 2009.
It has also forecast that inflation will fall back to the target rate of 2% by 2020.
“The figures won’t come as welcome news to the Bank of England, though – they’ll be desperate to leave policy unchanged until we get some clarity over Brexit and won’t want to be forced into a rate rise by accelerating prices,” said Mr Brettell.
The CPI measure reached 3.1% in November 2017, when price rises were fuelled by the weakness in the pound following Brexit vote.
In August, the largest change in prices was in the cultural services sector, where theatre tickets rose, and also games, toys and hobbies, while prices for computer goods rose after falling a year ago.
The ONS said transport costs as a component of inflation increased, largely because of rises in sea and air fares. Petrol prices, though, rose by 1.4 pence between July and August, less than the 1.8 pence rise of a year earlier.
The average price of clothing and footwear rose 3.1% between July and August, faster than the 2.4% a year before. While clothing prices usually rise between July and August, the ONS said women’s and children’s clothing drove the rise.
Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said the fact that the inflation rise was fuelled by reaction and cultural goods meant it would be temporary.
“We would expect this to unwind in next month’s release,” Mr Archer said.
The Retail Prices Index (RPI), a separate measure of inflation, was 3.5% in August, up from 3.2% in July.
PRINCE William is set to launch a new workplace mental health initiative on Tuesday, which is designed to provide employers with improved access to tools and materials required to better support staff.
The Duke of Cambridge will unveil his Mental Health At Work project at an event in Bristol on Tuesday, which will include an online portal providing access to resources, training and information for managers in order to provide support for employees.
Prince William will visit Bristol’s Engine Shed, an innovation centre located in Bristol Temple Meads railway station, and will attend workshops demonstrating the online portal in action.
The initiative has been created in partnership between the Royal Foundation, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s charitable trust, and the mental health charity Mind.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, commented on the initiative, stating: “We know that employers want to do more and are starting to see mental health as a priority, but often don’t know where to start.
“The new online Mental Health At Work gateway will change that.
“Over the last few years employers have begun to take staff well-being more seriously and we know that many are doing great work around mental health in the workplace.
“Now is the time for a step change in how we think about mental health at work.”
The initiative will be open to all businesses, but will be particularly focused on small and medium sized organisations, which regularly struggle to access sufficient resources.
Alan Soady, head of media at the Federation of Small Businesses, commented on the issue to Sky News, stating: “For the small business employer without an HR department it’s important that they’re given help, support and guidance to allow them to do that for their staff and also look after their own well-being.”
Prince William will deliver a speech at the event, alongside Antonio Horta Osorio, the chief executive of Lloyds Bank, who will outline his own struggles in the workplace.
The Duke will also meet representatives from a number of organisations who have shown leadership in promoting and advancing mental health initiatives in the workplace.
The project will expand upon the Prince’s previous work on mental health as part of his Head Together campaign, which sought to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.
A survey conducted by Mind into wellbeing in the workplace revealed that almost half of the 44,000 people questioned had experienced poor mental health in their current roles.
However the research also revealed that only half of these individuals had talked to their employers about the issue.
This suggests that as many as one in four UK workers struggle in silence with issues including anxiety, stress and low moods, costing employers between £33-£42billion every year.