Consumers Continue to be Hit by High Food Prices

According to the latest UK Government statistics the rate of inflation has gone down – the first such decrease since August of 2022. But as everyone is experiencing, the price of your weekly food shop continues to increase. What is going on ?

The Office of National Statistics collects data for the whole of the UK and keeps a track on what is happening through the Consumer Price Inflation Basket.

The ONS chooses items which it considers represents average consumer shopping. These are average rises and may differ depending on where you live – but the trend in what is happening will be the same.

graph shows the huge rise in food and beverages over the last few months although this month April it has decreased very slightly
Consumer price inflation from the Office for National Statistics

Although there has been a very slight decrease in the month of April 2023 in the average price for food and beverages, you can see clearly from the above graph the longer term trend on what our basic shop is doing. The very slight decrease from March to April was due to bread and cereals; fish; milk, cheese and eggs; and sugar, jam and honey.

The main reason for the fall in inflation from August of last year is for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 12.3% in April 2023, down from a peak of 26.7% in January 2023 and from a rise of 26.1% in March 2023. This fall is largely because of the upward contribution from the higher April 2022 Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) energy cap dropping out of the annual estimates.

What you will notice, however, is that your Council Tax has gone up and if you are a renter, that too has increased.

If you have a motor vehicle you will have noticed a change there in fuel prices which have been dropping since last year.

graph shows the rise in petrol and diesel prices with the drop for a peak in July 2022
CPIH, transport and motor fuels annual inflation rates, UK, April 2013 to April 2023

And whilst it is good to see some movement downward in prices, look at what has been happening to the cost of all goods and services over the last ten years. This graph gives a better indication of the extreme pressures people, especially those on lower incomes, have been facing in the UK.

The huge rise in inflation which took place from April 2021 onwards having been stable, sort of, for many years
CPIH goods, services and core annual inflation rates for the last 10 years, UK, April 2013 to April 2023

Emma Roddick SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands commented that, with food inflation at a near 45-year high and households still faced with massively increased living costs, there was no cause for celebration.

Speaking about the latest figures she said that households across Orkney continue to be let down by the UK Government’s ‘economic mismanagement’.

head and shoulders image of Emma Roddick giving a speech in the Scottish Parliament

“Although inflation has dropped, folk in the isles continue to be hammered by this Tory-made cost-of-living crisis.

“With food inflation still sitting at 19.1%, and households in Orkney still facing some of the highest living costs in the country, no one should be under the illusion that the UK Government has the situation under control.

“The Scottish Government continues to do all it can to mitigate the devastating impacts of this shambolic economic mismanagement, but there is only so much that can be done within the constraints of devolution.

“Here in Scotland, we want to look after people, and we should not have to wait a minute longer for the UK Government to step up and do the bare minimum. Enough is enough.”

The full repercussions of leaving the world’s largest Free Trade Market, the EU; the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which continues to affect the long term health of many workers; the invasion of Ukraine by Russia; and a revolving door of Prime Ministers in an unstable Tory UK Government – these are the main reasons for the huge increase in the cost of living in the UK.

Inflation is not just a problem for the UK, European nations and the US are also dealing with price rises – but the stability of the UK has been severely compromised by its decision to leave the EU in an advisory referendum in which two out of the four countries in the UK voted to remain. Post EU planning by the UK Government has been abysmal and left it poorly equipped to then deal with a pandemic – especially as successive UK Governments had been underfunding and under valuing the work of the NHS. Add into that equation the war in Ukraine and a UK Government wrought with resignations and accusations of profiteering personally out of the pandemic.

It is the ordinary citizens who are now paying the very high price for the startling ineptitude of a UK more intent on suppressing voters rights and freedoms to protest than dealing with the economic consequences of their decisions.

Fiona Grahame

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