Inflation falls to its lowest level for more than a year as consumers benefit from petrol pump price war

Figures ease pressure on the Bank of England as it strives to meet its inflation target of 2 per cent

Inflation fell to its lowest level for more than a year in October, plunging to 2.2 per cent, official figures showed today.

The sharper-than-expected drop in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rate from 2.7 per cent in September to 2.2 per cent in October was seen as easing pressure on the Bank to lift historically-low interest rates. Sterling fell on currency markets as a result.

The figure equals the level of inflation in September last year and takes it closer to reaching the Bank's target level of 2 per cent for the first time in four years. It was last lower, at 1.9 per cent, in November 2009.

Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the fall as "encouraging news for hard-working people" in a Twitter message, though Labour pointed out that wages - rising at an annual rate of just 0.7 per cent, according to latest figures - were still lagging behind.

Savers are also still struggling to find accounts that beat the rise in the cost of living, according to price comparison website Moneyfacts.

Policymakers at the Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC) were shown the figures last week before making their latest decision to hold interest rates.

Tomorrow, the MPC's quarterly Inflation Report will take the temperature of the economy amid speculation that it will upgrade forecasts for growth and jobs.

Lower inflation expectations will reduce the pressure on the Bank to cut interest rates although better prospects for the UK's gross domestic product (GDP) and unemployment will have the opposite effect.

The Bank has pledged not to raise interest rates before the jobless rate falls to 7 per cent and indicated this target is unlikely to be met until the third quarter of 2016 at the earliest.

So the likelihood of this target being met sooner would add to anxiety that interest rates will be raised from their historic low of 0.5 per cent before that time.

A safeguard built into the "forward guidance" policy means rates can be subject to a "knockout" if inflation looks likely to spiral out of control but this is looking less likely now that it is close to the Bank's 2 per cent target.

Should tomorrow's report forecast inflation easing back further, it will be seen as a counterbalance to pressure from other economic indicators to raise interest rates.

Nida Ali, economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, said: "Inflation is coming down much quicker than the Bank's expectations. In light of the latest developments, we are likely to see a big downgrade to inflation in tomorrow's report."

Key factors in the latest fall in CPI were a petrol pump price war that saw 4.9p cut from a litre of fuel during October, and a smaller impact from university tuition fees, a year after they were introduced.

Recently-announced energy price hikes of around 9 per cent have yet to take effect and are likely to have an upward impact on inflation later this year.

The latest plunge in inflation comes after the UK recorded three successive quarters of improving GDP growth as it strives to recover from the economic downturn.

Martin Beck of Capital Economics said: "October's inflation data suggests that the UK economy is hitting a sweet spot of accelerating growth and falling inflation."

He suggested the coming impact of energy tariff hikes would be offset by subdued underlying price pressures and meant there was little chance of the Bank of England's inflation "knockout" being triggered soon.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said: "The easing in the rate of inflation and underlying price pressures will provide greater scope for monetary policy to be kept looser for longer and thereby helping ensure a sustainable upturn in the economy."

Sylvia Waycot of Moneyfacts.co.uk said: "The cost of living may be falling but this has done nothing to aid the untold anguish felt by the nation's savers."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living