Politics

The graph Rishi Sunak doesn't want you to see

Jeremy Hunt claims families can 'heave a sigh of relief' thanks to falling inflation. But politicians aren't being clear about how prices are still increasing

inflation, jeremy hunt, rishi sunak

Inflation is falling. But that's not the whole picture. Image: Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street/Flickr

“Good news for you, your family and the country,” declared Rishi Sunak in a social media post, celebrating a newly-announced fall in inflation. The measure has fallen from 11.1% in October 2022 to 3.4% in February 2024.

To make his point, Sunak shared a graph. The message is clear: the line is going down. You’re better off. Vote for us.

But it doesn’t tell the true story of how prices have changed over the past couple of years. Inflation going down doesn’t mean prices are going down – just that they’re rising less quickly than before.

Other numbers are available. The CPIH price index – a measure of how prices have changed over time – was 124.3 in October 2022. By February 2024, it was 130.8.

inflation, rishi sunak
Despite falling inflation, prices are still rising. Image: Big Issue/ONS

In other words, something costing £12.43 back then would cost £13.08 now. Look back to April 2021, and you’d be paying just £11.04. Prices have increased by 18% since then.

Even that doesn’t even touch the reality for families on low incomes. The price of food has increased by almost 25% since January 2022, and there are concerns over cheaper products simply disappearing from certain supermarkets.

Food inflation has fallen, but remains 5%. In March 2023, it reached a high of 19.2% – meaning something costing £1 in March 2022 cost £1.19 just a year later.

Meanwhile, as chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt claimed the new figures meant families can “heave a sigh of relief”, food banks warned the crisis remains.

“The cost of living crisis and its impact on low-income households is far from over. Soaring inflation compounded a pre-existing poverty crisis, debts have built up, the social security system remains unfit for purpose and wages are too low,” said Sabine Goodwin, director of the Independent Food Aid Network.

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