City workers, and commuters, many of whom are wearing face masks heading towards the entrance to Liverpool Street Station on Bishopsgate on 26th May 2021 in London, United Kingdom.

Mike Kemp | In Pictures | Getty Images

LONDON — The U.K.’s consumer prices index surged by 3.2% in the 12 months to August, official data showed on Wednesday, the largest ever monthly increase since records began in Jan. 1997.

A Reuters poll had predicted a reading of 2.9% for August. The index jumped 2.0% in July on an annual basis.

The Office for National Statistics, which published the data, noted that the surge was “likely to be a temporary change” and said the U.K. government’s “Eat Out to Help Out” program last year may have accentuated the jump.

“In August 2020 many prices in restaurants and cafes were discounted because of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out (EOHO) scheme, which offered customers half-price food and drink to eat or drink in (up to the value of £10) between Mondays and Wednesdays,” the ONS said in its statement.

“Because EOHO was a short-term scheme, the upward shift in the August 2021 12-month inflation rate is likely to be temporary.”

The reading is once again above the Bank of England’s target of 2% and will no doubt add weight to those voices calling for an end to the unprecedented pandemic-era stimulus polices. It also comes amid rising energy prices and as the country continues to reopen after strict coronavirus lockdowns.