Inflation has accelerated in Britain in recent months, pushed up by a weakening of the pound since last year's decision by voters to leave the European Union, and by the rise in oil prices which has fuelled inflation in other countries too.
Last week Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned this year would be challenging for consumers, saying that wages are about to fall in real, inflation-adjusted terms.
But with little sign of an overheating domestic economy, all but one of the BoE's eight policymakers voted last week to keep rates on hold.
The latest inflation figures were boosted most of all by rising airfares during the Easter holidays, which were in March last year. Rising clothing prices, higher car tax and electricity also pushed up consumer prices.
Many economists say the impact of the fall in sterling on consumer prices will be felt more strongly in the coming months, and the central bank expects inflation to peak at nearly 3 percent by the end of this year.
Excluding oil prices and other volatile components such as food, core consumer price inflation rose to 2.4 percent, the strongest rate since March 2013 and above economists' expectations for it to rise to 2.2 percent.