Prices jumped by 0.6 per cent between March and April, the sharpest one-month increase for nearly five years.
That carried year-on-year inflation back to the Bank of England's two per cent target, measured by the consumer prices index, unwinding an unexpected dip to 1.8 per cent in March.
The more familiar retail prices index - the basis for the state pension and other welfare benefits as well as a starting point for most pay negotiations - rose more steeply still over the month, by nearly 0.8 per cent, making its 12-month increase 2.6 per cent.
This worsening picture for prices came as no surprise in the City after last week's quarterly "Inflation Report" from the Bank of England, which indicated that interest rates will almost certainly have to rise to meet the Bank's target two years out - a prospect already taken into account by financial markets.
Last month's biggest price increases were all linked directly or indirectly to the price of oil.
The biggest single factor was air fares. They rose this April, but fell in April last year.
National Statistics pointed out that Easter, which usually sees a surge in air fares, fell in April this year but was in March last time.
In calculating the cost of all kinds of transport, this was offset to some extent by Chancellor Brown's Budget concession giving free local bus travel to the over-60s and disabled people of all ages.
Fast-rising gas and electricity bills now affect almost every household in the country. Several companies that had held back their increases last winter imposed them last month. Those announced earlier reached more homes with the arrival of new quarterly bills.
NS said the cost of fuel and light as measured by the RPI rose by 20.5 per cent in the 12 months to April, more than at any time since August, 1981, and up from 15.5 per cent in March. A detailed breakdown in the CPI, shows gas bills up by 24.8 per cent year on year, electricity by 17.3 per cent and liquid fuels by 24.9 per cent.
Inflation is still over-whelmingly driven by the cost of service activities, although the "all goods" index is no longer a negligible factor. It has risen by 0.5 per cent over the past year, while the cost of services is 3.8 per cent higher.
None of this was seen as particularly alarming or unexpected by City economists, although the next move in official interest rates is still expected to be up.
"It is encouraging that after such large increases in gas and electricity and petrol prices that the headline rate is only at its target," said Geoffrey Dicks, an economist at The Royal Bank of Scotland.
"The headline rate may edge higher in the coming months as higher energy prices continue to feed through but the underlying picture remains benign."
British inflation is also better contained than in the euro zone, where prices rose by 2.4 per cent in April, while varying considerably between individual countries, but taken together materially over-shooting the European Central Bank's two per cent per cent target.