The squeeze on household budgets in the UK tightened further last month as official figures revealed Tuesday hikes in energy bills and fuel costs sent inflation to its highest level since last May.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rose to 2.8% in February, ending a four-month run at 2.7% as the last of the major energy providers pushed through gas and electricity price rises.
Higher petrol costs were also behind the increase in inflation, which puts further pressure on Chancellor, Finance secretary, George Osborne ahead of tomorrow's Budget statement.
Higher energy bills saw housing costs rise 0.5% between January and February.
The Bank of England, Britain's central bank, has already said it will tolerate above-target inflation to support recovery efforts, warning last month that inflation will rise higher and is not set to return to target for three years.
Meanwhile, the Treasury shrugged off the increase in CPI, insisting it was "in line with market expectations and down by almost a half from its peak of 5.