Britons' wages after inflation rose at their slowest pace in almost three years in the three months' through February, data showed Wednesday, adding to signs that Britons are facing a living standards squeeze despite a tightening labor market.
The annual rate of inflation remained steady at 2.3% last month as lower fuel and flight costs helped offset rises in food and alcohol prices.
'Many more will join them in the coming months as inflation continues to rise, with pay across the economy as a whole set to have fallen in the first three months of 2017.
China's consumer inflation rate has been far milder, edging up to 0.9 percent in March, from 0.8 percent in February.
Sterling slipped back after the CPI announcement, before regaining composure in afternoon trading to rise 0.1% against the U.S. dollar at 1.243 and push marginally higher versus the euro at 1.172.
The CPI 12-month rate was also 2.3% in March 2017, unchanged from February.
The figures drove home how households are grappling with rising prices in shops, exacerbated by the pound's plunge that followed last year's vote to leave the European Union and by rising global oil prices. In February, it fell 0.2% from the month before.
On Tuesday, figures showed inflation was running at 2.3%, above the Bank of England's 2% target.
Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted March consumer inflation would edge up to 1.0 percent, but remain well within the central bank's comfort zone.
Compared to same period of 2016 air fare inflation dived 22.8%, reflecting an Easter weekend price spike which falls in April this year.
The ONS said the number of vacancies in the three-month period to the end of March rose by 16,000 to a record high 767,000.
The NBS said that mining inflation cooled to a still-brisk 33.7% over the year, down from 36.1% in February, while raw materials prices grew by 14.9%, below the 15.5% level reported previously.
Whereas non-food inflation picked-up on the back of the increased cost of services, such as healthcare, pork prices continued to drag on those for foodstuffs.
"The fact that wages are falling at a time when inflation is still relatively low and unemployment is at its lowest level in 40 years, shows just how catastrophic Britain's productivity failure is for pay packets and living standards", Mr Clarke said.
He adds it is worth remembering that CPI in the U.S. is only just creeping up, despite wages increasing in response to a stronger labour market.
But we don't think that that will panic the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) into raising rates imminently.