UK inflation rate falls sharply in April to 0.8%

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The UK’s inflation rate fell in April to its lowest since August 2016 as the economic fallout of the first month of the lockdown hit prices.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) fell to 0.8% from 1.5% in March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

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Falling petrol and diesel prices, plus lower energy bills, were the main drivers pushing inflation lower.

But the prices of games and toys rose, which the ONS said may be due to people spending more time at home.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: “While the coronavirus limited the availability of some goods and services, its effect on prices was more muted.”

He said that food prices generally rose no more quickly than other goods and services, “though fresh vegetables did see stronger rises”.

The ONS said average petrol prices dropped by 10.4p a litre between March and April – the biggest fall since unleaded petrol records began in 1990 – amid a slump in global oil prices.

Energy prices also pushed inflation lower as regulator Ofgem reduced its default tariff cap.

The ONS said clothes retailers, hit during the early days of the lockdown by weaker footfall and then the closure of outlets, resorted to more discount sales than usual to try to shift their stock.