The annual rate of inflation leaped to 3 per cent in April, from 2.5 per cent in March, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The surge is the biggest since 2001 and deals a significant blow to hopes of a cut in interest rates. It was largely a result of the rising household energy bills because of the increasing cost of gas, electricity and oil.

However, the increase was also fuelled by increasingly expensive food and non-alcoholic drinks, particularly meat, fruit, bread, cereals and fish.

The largest downward contribution came from transport costs, mainly because of the price of air transport fuels and lubricants. There was further downward movement from clothing and footwear.

Retail Price Index inflation rose to 4.2 per cent in April, up from 3.8 per cent in March, driven by the main factors affecting the CPI.