The annual rate of inflation was unchanged in January, despite the first monthly fall in food prices, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The rate of inflation surprised experts and economists who expected to see prices increase at a faster rate due to the rise in energy bills.

The consumer prices index rose 4% in the 12 months to January, the same rate as December 2023.

The unchanged annual rate between December 2023 and January 2024 was a result of prices falling by 0.6% month on month, the same rate as it was between December and January a year earlier.

While the annual rate of inflation stayed the same, January’s figures show the first month-on-month fall in food prices for over two years.

The cost of food declined 0.4% from December to January while the overall rate of food inflation stood at 8%

In response to the latest data, chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “Inflation never falls in a perfect straight line but the plan is working. We have made huge progress in bringing inflation down from 11%, and the Bank of England forecast that it will fall to around 2% in a matter of months.”