Inflation up, house prices ease and Cameron signals flexibility on changing Help to Buy rules

The latest economic figures are out from the Office for National Statistics, here is what you need to know:

Inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) grew by 1.8% in the year to April 2014, up from 1.6% in March. The rise was mostly driven by a spike in transport costs.

According to the ONS, air fares, sea fares and motor fuels provided the largest contribution to the rise in the rate, while falling food prices helped offset the overall increase.

Meanwhile, the UK’s housing market continues its ascent, though growth has slowed slightly. The ONS House Price Index showed that average prices rose by 8.0% in the year to March, down from 9.2% in the year to February 2014.

House price annual inflation was 8.5% in England, 4.9% in Wales, 0.8% in Scotland and 0.3% in Northern Ireland. London and the south east played a major role in England’s higher levels of inflation, with a 17% rise in prices recorded in the capital.

Excluding London and the south east, UK house prices rose by a more modest 4.7% in the 12 months to March 2014.

The ONS also reports that In March 2014, prices paid by first-time buyers were 10% higher on average than in March 2013.

Today, David Cameron signalled that he was willing to act over concerns that the government’s Help to Buy scheme was having an adverse effect on the property market, saying to the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme.

He said: “Of course, we will consider any changes that are proposed by [Bank of England Governor] Mark Carney.

“But, as he said, this is a well-targeted scheme and it has helped tens of thousands of people get on the housing ladder and to have mortgages.”

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