Inflation in the United Kingdom surged last month to its highest annual rate in 40 years, official data show, piling pressure on the government to step up assistance for households facing a worsening cost-of-living crisis.

Consumer price inflation hit 9 percent in April, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Wednesday, surpassing the peaks of the early 1990s recession that many Britons remember for sky-high interest rates and widespread mortgage defaults.

The UK now has the highest inflation rate of Europe’s five biggest economies and almost certainly of the Group of Seven countries, with Canada and Japan yet to report figures for April. Neither is likely to match Britain’s inflation level.

“Countries around the world are dealing with rising inflation,” said UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the finance minister.

“Today’s inflation numbers are driven by the energy price cap rise in April, which in turn is driven by higher global energy prices.

“We cannot protect people completely from these global challenges but are providing significant support where we can, and stand ready to take further action.”

The release of the data led to a drop in the value of sterling, which was down 0.6 percent against the United States dollar at 08:16 GMT.