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Latest RPI figure shows inflation at 4.9%

Cost of Living - Going Up

The latest RPI figure shows inflation at 4.9%

On 20 October the UK Government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the latest Retail Price Index (RPI) figure. This provides the RPI rate to 14 September 2021. It shows that prices are up 4.9% from a year ago.


Clothing and footwear are up 9.3%

Women’s clothes have risen 13.5%, while new gear for the kids is up 10.4%. Men’s clothing is 8.5% more expensive than last year. Footwear is also up by 5.9%.


Motoring Expenditure is up 10.3%

Petrol and oil are up a whopping 17.6% on last year. The purchase of motor vehicles also costs 11.8% more than twelve months ago.


Fares and other travel costs are up 6.2%

Other travel costs (including things like Taxi fares, car parking charges, air fares) have increased by 9.4% over the last year.


Housing is up 5.1%

The increase is largely driven by DIY, with do-it-yourself materials costing 7.8% more than a year ago.


Household goods are up 7%

Furniture is 12.7% more costly than a year ago. Furnishings have gone up by 8.2% over the same period.

Bitesize Bargaining

RPI not CPI reflects the price rises experienced by Unite members

Unite strongly recommends using RPI for negotiations because the RPI figure more closely reflects the actual price rises experienced by Unite members.

It is not only Unite. The Royal Statistical Society (RSS), the TUC and others believe that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) understates inflation.(1) Unison claim that a switch from RPI to the CPI would cost the average full-time worker approximately £350 per year.

The Retail Price Index (RPI) has been going since 1947 and is still widely used to decide prices such as mobile phone bills, rail fares, student loans and ‘sin’ taxes e.g. alcohol.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has only been used by the Government to measure inflation since December 2003. Unlike RPI it doesn’t include the cost of your home - like rises in mortgage payments, rents, and council tax. It is also calculated using a different mathematical model which means it is a bit lower than RPI. So, people who want a lower inflation figure, like the employers bargaining on pay, prefer the CPI.

The RPI and CPI have different parameters for the spending they include and don’t include.




Mortgage payments

Stockbrokers fees

What you spend on holiday

Spending by foreign visitors to the UK

The CPI (and its sister index the CPIH) covers all expenditure within the UK, meaning that the index covers the spending of groups not usually relevant to our negotiations, including:

  • Residents of institutional households such as university halls of residence or nursing homes; and
  • Visitors to the UK from abroad.(2)

The RPI is also more realistic for bargaining purposes because it is based on the actual spending of private UK based households only and excludes:

  • The top 4% of households by income; and
  • Pensioner households (where the head of the household is retired and economically inactive and where at least three-quarters of the household income is derived from state benefits).(3)

Cross posted from Work Voice Pay





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