The Office for National Statistics said utility prices rose 3.9% on the year while fuel costs fell by 0.2%.
The inflation, above the Bank of England’s 2% target since November 2009, is likely to have been a key argument against more quantitative easing to support growth at the bank’s monthly policy meeting last week.
High inflation has also put pressure on consumer spending, which accounts for around two thirds of all expenditure in a British economy that is still struggling to fend off recession.
The central bank’s latest quarterly forecasts, released in November, showed that inflation would peak in the third quarter of 2013, falling below the target only a year later.
According to separate data published by the ONS on Tuesday, annual factory-gate inflation inched up to 2.2% in December from 2.1% in November.
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