Home News Fall in inflation welcomed but charity warns of struggles UK households still facing

Fall in inflation welcomed but charity warns of struggles UK households still facing

by Rachel Symonds
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News that inflation has fallen to 3.2 per cent has been welcomed but warnings remain of the cost pressures still facing UK households.

The latest CPI inflation figures for March have revealed that inflation fell to 3.2 per cent, with food inflation falling one percentage point to four per cent.

Responding to the figures, Shona Goudie, Policy and Advocacy Manager at The Food Foundation, cautioned: “As inflation continues to ease, it is important not to lose sight of the struggles that many people across the UK are still experiencing. Even though we are seeing lower inflation figures, this does not necessarily mean that prices are coming down, but instead that prices are increasing more slowly. The Food Foundation has been tracking food prices on our Basic Basket Tracker for two years showing that despite inflation falling, this has not yet been reflected in the cost of a weekly shop. In fact, since we began tracking, the price of a weekly shop has increased by approximately 25 per cent. Concerningly, the price of the vegetables in the basket has increased by more than the average, up by 39 per cent.

“Our recent food insecurity data showed that eight million adults live in households experiencing food insecurity in January 2024 and 44 per cent of households who had experienced food insecurity reported to have purchased less veg.  The price of food remains a significant barrier to eating the healthy diet that everyone deserves. This is why we are calling on all political parties to commit to ensuring that everyone in the UK is able to access and afford healthy food as we approach the next general election.”

Also commenting was Kris Hamer, Director of Insight of the British Retail Consortium, who said: “Cost pressures on households eased in March as inflation dropped to its lowest level since September 2021. Energy prices remain deflationary, while falling inflation rates for clothing and household furniture and equipment were also key in driving down the headline figure. Consumers benefitted as food inflation fell once again, marking 12 months of consecutive drops. This was helped by falls in the cost of a roast dinner as the price of beef, pork and potatoes all fell.

“As some cost pressures in the supply chain begin to ease, retailers have worked hard to pass on savings where they can and offering their customers the best value for money. In a year of elections, politicians, both locally and nationally, must recognise retail’s role in the economy, providing jobs and investment in every corner of the country and helping deliver government policy through its scale and reach. Competition between retailers has played a key role in bringing down inflation for the public and it is vital that politicians consider the inflationary impact of new policies which might reverse this progress and result in higher prices for consumers in the long run.”

And Karen Betts, CEO at The Food and Drink Federation, also commented “Food and drink price inflation fell again in March, to four per cent from five per cent in February. This corresponds to input price inflation that manufacturers experience, which also continues to ease. This is good news for consumers – with food and drink price inflation rates now much lower than they were a year ago and with some prices in shops falling. However, risks remain, including the increasing instance of extreme weather, which is impacting agriculture globally. This has been very visible in the UK in recent weeks with this winter’s wet weather causing widespread flooding on farmland. Inevitably, lower or poorer crop yields caused by bad weather have the ability to impact food prices.

“In this context, we welcome the Prime Minister’s intention to hold another farm to fork summit at No 10 next month. Food security should be a focus of this, and how all parts of the food system work together – and with government – to ensure the UK has a secure supply of good quality food and drink.  A central part of this is regulation, and ensuring this fosters investment in the UK, including in innovation and food science. Unfortunately, current government plans for ‘not for EU’ labelling will have the opposite effect, as will current government plans for Forest Risk Commodity regulations, where industry want the same outcome as government, but current proposals are not well designed and will create unnecessary burdens for supply chains. Both could lead to a disinvestment in UK food and drink over time. We hope the summit will help to resolve problems such as these with forward-looking solutions that are well within our reach.”


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