A rise in the cost of housing, electricity along with hikes in footwear and clothing helped drive inflation to its highest level for two years, official figures show.

 

 

The Central Statistics Office said the annual rate of inflation in February was 2.2%, up from 1.7% in January and the highest since November 2008.

The most significant monthly increases in the cost of living related to the price of clothing and footwear and furnishings and household equipment, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Month on month, prices rose to their highest level in three years with an increase of 0.9% between January and Febuary.

 

A breakdown showed the clothing and footwear prices jumped 6.5% from January to February, while prices of furniture and household equipment rose 1.8%.

 

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said rising prices was putting "impossible pressure" on working people in Ireland.

 

The CSO said the pick-up in clothes and footwear prices after the end of winter sales, while health insurance premiums also increased.

The EU's harmonised measure of prices - which excludes mortgage interest repayments - rose 0.9% in the month, giving an annual increase also of 0.9%.

Health insurance prices jumped by 14.4% but a drop in the cost of prescription drugs in February meant the 'general health' was 0.6% cheaper for consuemers.

But the cost of food was up - by 0.7% - as was the cost of rent - up 1%. But  mortgage payments fell 0.1%. 

Transport costs climbed by 0.7%, with petrol prices up 1.1% and air fares jumped a massive 21%.

Restaurant prices dropped 0.5% during February, but accommodation costs were up 1.5%.

Economic adviser Paul Sweeney said "overall price levels are already some 26% above average price levels in the EU" according to Eurostat data and more price hikes were to come with the proposed rise in VAT and rise in commodity prices such as oil. 

 

“The incoming Government needs to bear this increased cost of living in mind, when framing policy,” Mr Sweeney said.