THE rate of inflation eased further back last month but cost pressures remained intense for struggling households as food prices hit another 45-year high, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the rate of Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation fell to 10.5% in December from 10.7%.

The SNP said that the figures showed the continued impact on Brexit. The party’s economy spokesperson Stewart Hosie said: “Rising food bills and other costs skyrocketing are as a result of the economic incompetence of the Tories

“The Tories are not fooling anyone when they blame Covid or the war in Ukraine on inflation. 

“The UK is set to have the slowest growth in the G20, with the exception of Russia. It is purely the aftermath of Tory incompetence and their disastrous Brexit that is squeezing household budgets. 

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“Pro-Brexit Labour offer no hope of an alternative either as they would keep Scotland outside the EU, which would continue to keep prices high and heavily impact the economy’s ability to grow. 

“The Scottish Government continues to act with one hand tied behind its back by a UK Government that has trashed the economy and is taking Scotland along for the ride.” 

Elsewhere, Unite the union said it showed the cost of living crisis remains ongoing. General secretary Sharon Graham said: “The cost of living crisis continues and today’s figures do little to change that.

“Profiteering is at obscene levels across the economy, and the government remains intent on forcing workers to pay for a crisis not of their making.”

Falling fuel costs were largely behind the slight dip, with the average petrol price down by 8.3 pence per litre month-on-month in December.

There was little respite for families, however, with CPI still in double digits and food and drink inflation soaring yet again, to 16.8% in December up from 16.4% in November, marking the highest level since September 1977.

Graham added: “The question of ‘who pays?’ is still being answered at the expense of workers and communities.

“The truth of the matter is that the inflation crisis cannot be confronted in any real sense until ‘runaway’ profiteering is challenged, head on.”

Chief economist at the ONS Grant Fitzner said: “Inflation eased slightly in December, although still at a very high level, with overall prices rising strongly during the last year as a whole.

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“Prices at the pump fell notably in December, with the cost of clothing also dropping back slightly.

“Food costs continue to spike, with prices also rising in shops, cafes and restaurants.”