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Soaring petrol costs push up UK inflation

Britons were hit with another above-target hike in the cost of living last month as sharp rises in fuel prices sent inflation to 3.2%, official figures revealed today.

The increase in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) - up from 3.1% in September - has forced Bank of England Governor Mervyn King to write another letter to the Chancellor explaining why inflation is so far above the 2% target.

Soaring costs at the petrol pumps were largely behind the CPI increase following the Government's fuel duty rise on October 1, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

Mr King has now had to pen four letters in a row to the Chancellor.

The Bank boss has to publish an open letter if CPI is more than 1% above the 2% target and thereafter every three months if it fails to drop back.

CPI is now back up to the level seen in June having remained stubbornly above target since November last year.

And there is expected to be further pain to come for households, with the Bank warning in its latest forecast report that higher bills and the impending VAT rise could see CPI spike to 3.5% over the coming months

The ONS said petrol prices rose by 2.1p a litre between September and October, while beer, wine and tobacco were also more expensive.

Big increases in computer games bought on the high street also drove a record rise in inflation for recreation and culture goods.

But there was some relief on food bills as shoppers were helped by lower vegetable and meat prices, with pork in particular cheaper due to healthy stock levels, said the ONS.

Property price falls sent the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, which includes housing costs, down to 4.5% in October from 4.6% in September - its lowest level since March.

House prices have been falling in recent months, while they were rising this time last year.

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