Inflation rates remained unchanged last month, defying expectations that they would drop and heaping further pressure on households.

The Office for National Statistics said Consumer Prices Index inflation (CPI) remained at 8.7% in May, the same as it had been in April.

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The ONS said rising prices for plane tickets, recreational and cultural goods and services and second-hand cars added the most to inflation.

Costs for motor fuel fell, the ONS said, putting the biggest downward pressures on inflation.

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ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner said: “After last month’s fall, annual inflation was little changed in May and remains at a historically high level.

“The cost of air fares rose by more than a year ago and is at a higher level than usual for May.

“Rising prices for second-hand cars, live music events and computer games also contributed to inflation remaining high.”