Branch Secretary :

RPI figure shows inflation at 2.4%

Cost of Living - Going Up

The latest RPI figure shows inflation at 2.4%


On 17 April the UK Government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the latest retail price index (RPI) figure. It shows that prices are up 2.4% from a year ago.


Leisure services are up 4.7%


Foreign holidays are up 5.7%, while the price of holidays in the UK has risen 5.7% over the past year.


Household services are up 3.5%


The rise in the price of household services has largely been driven by the increased cost of phones, which are 4.5% more expensive than last year.



Clothing and footwear are up 3.5%


Women’s clothes have risen 6.5% while new gear for the kids is 4.3% more expensive than last year and men’s outerwear is up 3.1%.


Fares and other travel costs are up 3.3%


Rail fares are up 4.1%, bus and coach fares have gone up 2.9% and other travel costs have increased 3% over the past year.


Catering is up 2.9%


Take-away meals and snacks are 3.3% more costly than this time last year and a meal in a restaurant is 2.7% more expensive. If you have a canteen at work prices are probably more expensive with canteen meals up 2.9%.



“Arguments over inflation and rising costs are part of something much bigger” says Sharon Graham


With wages only just starting to recover from the crash ten years ago and uncertainty in the air, our investigation into the cost of living has started at an important time. By taking a step back and looking at how we calculate rising costs and what this really means to our members, it becomes clear that inflation is just one part of a much bigger picture.


Debates over RPI and particularly how to kill it, are generated by more than statistical theory. With both the economy and wages growing slowly if at all, the pressure is on to reduce expectations as well as costs. The same logic applies both for the Government and other employers. The reason they can do this is because of power. We know that many employers have ample ability to pay for our members to get a bigger piece of the pie, it doesn’t matter to them whether we negotiate for 5% over RPI or CPI, and it is not going to kill their balance sheet. But as the saying goes ‘never waste a good crisis’.


Whilst statisticians have been involved in academic debates over inflation, at the same time many employers have used the crash - and now want to use the current uncertainty – to further cement a culture of low expectations. They want their workforce to expect only the scraps and low wage deals supported by ‘new’ lower inflation figures (CPI for example!) help them do just that. What they don’t want is a combination of Union power and realistic expectations. They don’t want workers demanding good wages and conditions on the back of strong financial performance. They want a permanent wage austerity underpinned by a lack of confidence in the workforce.


That is why we are determined to improve our understanding of the real ability to pay of employers and the rising costs faced by our members. Working with experts, we are now piloting advanced financial analysis that can help democratise company information and crucially breed confidence amongst our activists. And just this week we have engaged statisticians to break down RPI and see if we can make it more relevant to the spending of our membership. Hopefully this is just the start. I will keep you informed of progress.


Unite Executive Officer, organising


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