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Rishi Sunak is to warn that the next few months will be tough

In a speech to businesses later, the chancellor will admit he "cannot pretend" it will be easy to cut the cost of living crunch for families.It comes as a think tank said the poorest were being hit hardest by steep rises in energy bills.Households are also dealing with record fuel costs and surging food prices.UK inflation, the rate at which prices rise, jumped to 9% in the 12 months to April, up from 7% in March, the highest level it has reached since 1982.Inflation is the rate at which prices are rising. For example, if a bottle of milk costs £1 and that rises by 9p, then milk inflation is 9%.April's jump in inflation came as millions of people saw an unprecedented £700-a-year increase in energy costs last month.But at the annual CBI dinner later, the chancellor will tell businesses: "There is no measure any government could take, no law we could pass, that can make these global forces disappear overnight."The next few months will be tough. But where we can act, we will."He is expected to call on businesses to boost investment and training in order to grow the economy and help ease the cost of living crunch, pledging to cut taxes on firms in return.Inflation chart.Around three quarters of the rise in inflation in April came from higher electricity and gas bills, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).A higher energy price cap - which is the maximum price per unit that suppliers can charge customers - kicked in last month, meaning homes using a typical amount of gas and electricity are now paying £1,971 per year on average.Fuel prices have also surged, with the RAC motoring group on Wednesday warning that petrol and diesel prices have hit new records of £1.68 and £1.81 per litre respectively.The prices of most other goods and services have risen as well, the ONS said, while wages are failing to keep pace with inflation and falling in real terms.Up until now households of all incomes had faced similar rates of inflation, but the poorest are now being hit hardest by rising prices because they have to spend far more of their household budgets on gas and electricity, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said.Retail Economics, a research consultancy, said the poorest people were experiencing a drop of £59 per month in their discretionary spending budgets compared to this time last year.
Citizens Advice said "the warning lights could not be flashing brighter" and the government needed to offer households more support, while debt charities urged anyone finding it difficult to pay bills to seek help earlier rather than later in the year.
"There are desperate stories behind these figures," said Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice. "People washing in their kitchen sinks because they can't afford a hot shower; parents skipping meals to feed their kids; disabled people who can't afford to use vital equipment because of soaring energy bills."
'I can't do much more'
 

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