The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rate remained unchanged at 1.8 per cent in July, confounding expectations that there would be another fall.

Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation fell 1.4% compared to the 1.6 per cent decline in June, the Office for national Statistics reported.

Food and non-alcoholic drinks exerted the strongest downward pressure on the CPI following a fall in meat and vegetable process this year.

Upward pressure came from recreation and culture – mainly games, hobbies and, to a lesser extent, computer games and pre-recorded DVDs.

Prices of furniture and household goods also fell by less than a year ago, “partially offset by a small downward effect from carpets and other floorcoverings where prices fell by more than a year ago”.

The ONS data suggested that deflationary pressures may be easing, economists said.

However the Bank of England – which has a 2% target inflation rate - has said that it is likely that inflation will fall below 1% in the autumn.