The Government should look for ways to curb inflation itself rather than leaving it to the Bank of England to raise interest rates.
This plea came yesterday from Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry after National Statistics reported a sharp jump in prices between April and May, driven chiefly b y rocketing gas and electricity.
A 0.49 per cent rise in last month's prices as measured by the consumer prices index took year-on-year inflation to 2.2 per cent breaking through the Bank of England's two per cent target, where it stood in April.
NS said the cost of fuel and light had risen by 26.2 per cent over the past 12 months, faster than at any time since March, 1981, at the time of the second "oil shock".
The effect was more severe judged by the familiar retail prices index, the benchmark for the state pension and some other benefits and used as a starting point by pay bargainers.
The RPI jumped by more than 0.6 per cent last month, making its year on year increase a full three per cent.
"Rising inflation is a worry to business and suggests that we could expect a rise in interest rates later in the year," said James Cropper, policy adviser at the Birmingham Chamber.
"Business in Birmingham will want the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England to consider the bigger picture and the negative impact that a rise in rates would have upon domestic growth and UK exports."
Mr Cooper called on the Government examine what it can do to lessen the burden on business of high energy prices - perhaps by cutting fuel duty and reconsidering the climate change levy.
He also objected that the CPI itself is part of the problem - "the the sense that it does not acccurately represent the real rate of price increases experienced by businesses and individuals".
It take no account of unavoidable personal costs including mortgage interest and council tax, which could encourage individuals to seek pay deals busting the official CPI version of inflation.
NS said that the RPI rose faster than the CPI last month largely because it gives a higher weighting to air fares. This was the only large factor holding inflation down last month.
Apart from fuel bills, seasonal food prices rose sharply, particularly for lettuces, cabbages and tomatoes.
Prices for footwear and clothing, particularly children's clothes rose by more than in may last year, pushed up by dearer replacement stocks and fewer sales.
City economists noted that last month's inflation did not necessarily point to an early rise in interest rates. They pointed out that the Bank's governor, Mervyn King, would have seen the figures before his speech on Monday when he said higher utility bills would have a moderating effect on consumer spending.
"Soothing comments on inflation from Mervyn King should help to take some of the sting out of this report," said Gavin Redknap, who is a top economist at Standard Chartered.