UK inflation has dropped, but remains in double-digit levels, as the cost-of-living crisis eased slightly in March.
The annual consumer prices index dropped to 10.1% in March, down from 10.4% in February, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported.
It was widely expected to fall below 10%, but food prices remained stubbornly high, rising at their fastest rate in 45 years.
Increased prices for bread, cereal and chocolate meant the cost of living rose more than expected last month.
David Bharier, Head of Research at the BCC, said:
‘Prices continue to rise at an alarming rate. Driven largely by housing and food costs, this is on top of an already high growth rate from this time last year.
‘Our research shows that inflation is still by far and away the top concern for UK SMEs. This has been driven by three years of global lockdowns, supply chain crises, energy shocks, and new trade barriers with the EU.
‘Small businesses, particularly those in the retail and hospitality sector, have been the least able to absorb cost rises, and we see that most have not invested or grown.
‘Businesses need to see a reduction in the cost and burden of exporting and importing, particularly with the EU, as well as increased support to deal with the unprecedented energy price shock.’