In the 12 months to September 2008 the all-items retail price index stood at 6.4 per cent, the highest in the last 16 years. The last time inflation touched the 6 per cent mark was in March 1992, when it was 6.8 per cent.

The introduction of the sales tax (GST) in May is estimated to have added 1.9 per cent to the retail price index (RPI), but GST will have a temporary effect on the RPI, which will disappear early next year.

If mortgage payments and indirect taxes, such GST and customs duties, are excluded from the calculations the underlying inflation rate in the 12 months up to September 2008 returns to 4.7 per cent. In the 12 months to June of this year the rate was 3.9 per cent.

The largest price rises up to September were motoring and housing, but the September figures do not reflect the recent decreased in the price of oil.