Autumn statement
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SOARING energy bills sent UK inflation to its highest level since 1981 in October as the cost-of-living crisis continues to hit households, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that inflation jumped to a higher than expected 11.1% in October – the highest rate for 41 years and up from 10.1% in September, as gas and electricity costs rocketed.

That exceeds the 10.7% rise most economists had predicted. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has claimed getting inflation under control would require “tough but necessary decisions on tax and spending to help balance the books”.

He is set to lay out his autumn Budget on Thursday.

The ONS said gas prices have leaped nearly 130% higher over the past year, while electricity has risen by around 66%.

The SNP have said the figures show households across Scotland “are paying the price for continued Westminster control”.

The party’s Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss said: “These latest figures must force the Chancellor to deliver meaningful financial support to households and businesses.

“Tomorrow’s budget must deliver a boost to incomes, energy bill support for low- and middle-income families, a real living wage, and extra investment in the NHS to help people weather this Tory-made cost of living storm.

“However, once again, households and businesses across Scotland are paying the price for continued Westminster control.

“With both the Tories and Labour hell bent on ‘making Brexit work’, there can be no doubt that independence is the only way to escape the long-term damage of Westminster and Brexit.”

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Families were also hit by rising costs across a range of food items, which also pushed up the cost of living to eye-watering levels.

Elsewhere, the Scottish Greens have slammed the “cruel and incompetent” Tory government for runaway inflation.

The party’s economy spokesperson Maggie Chapman said: “These are not just abstract figures; they represent people’s expenses and wellbeing.

“They can be the difference between a household or family being able to eat or not.

“With temperatures falling and bills increasing, millions of people are looking at a long, cold winter and, with even more cuts expected to be announced in tomorrow’s autumn Budget, things are set to get even harder.”

The jump in inflation – the biggest leap since March to April – comes despite the government energy support which had sought to limit Ofgem’s energy price cap at around £2500 a year.

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Chapman continued: “It is the cost of a reckless Tory Brexit and a cruel and incompetent government that is well aware of the pain it is inflicting but simply doesn’t care.

“If they cared, they would have spent the last 12 years investing in the infrastructure that would have prevented this situation.

“But they chose, instead, to re-inflate the housing bubble and impose austerity. The Tories are not the answer to this economic crisis.

“We must choose and then create a better future that does not have us shackled to the disaster that is Westminster.”

Hunt blamed the impact of the pandemic and Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine for the spike in prices.

Chief economist at the ONS Grant Fitzner said: “Rising gas and electricity prices drove headline inflation to its highest level for over 40 years, despite the Energy Price Guarantee.”

He added: “Increases across a range of food items also pushed up inflation.

“These were partially offset by motor fuels, where average petrol prices fell on the month, while the price for diesel rose taking the disparity in price between the two fuels to the highest on record.

“There was further evidence that costs facing businesses are rising more slowly, driven by crude oil and petroleum prices.”

By Adam Robertson

Source: The National

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