Rising fuel and food prices helped to push last month’s inflation rate to the highest since September 2013.
Inflation as measured by the Office for National Statistics’ Consumer Prices Index (CPI) jumped to 2.3% in February – up from 1.8% in January.
The increase has pushed the rate above the Bank of England’s 2% target.
Food prices recorded their first annual increase for more than two-and-a-half years, standing 0.3% higher in February than a year earlier.
The Bank of England has said it expects inflation will peak at 2.8% next year, although some economists think the rate could rise above 3%.
But despite inflation standing above the 2% target, some economists do not expect interest rates to rise any time soon.
Inflation is now running at the same rate as growth in wages, putting pressure on household income and spending.
Chris Williamson, chief business economist at Markit, said: “It remains likely that policymakers will adopt an increasingly dovish tone in coming months, despite the rise in inflation, as the economy slows due to consumers being squeezed by low pay and rising prices.”