The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Wednesday 14 December that inflation had fallen to 10.7% in November. This was down from 11.1% in October. However, this is not the whole story, because food prices have actually gone up again.
Inflation: falling if you’re well-off
News outlets like the BBC ran with the angle that while inflation had fallen, the “cost of a night out” had gone up, due to increasing alcohol prices. This was it’s headline:
Cost of drinking out rises ahead of Christmas.
It also noted that:
November’s [inflation] drop was due to petrol prices easing from record highs, and lower prices for second hand cars.
Of course, this is great if you can afford to go on a night out, or have the privilege of owning a car. However, that’s not the reality for many people. For example, as the Canary previously reported, only 35% of the poorest households own cars – versus 93% of the richest ones. Meanwhile, if you can afford around four quid for a pint of beer, you’re lucky. Back in the real world, the ONS inflation data was actually a catastrophe for millions of people.
BBC News reported that:
Annual food inflation hit 16.5% in November, the ONS said, the highest rate for 45 years and up from 16.4% in October.
This is a disaster for many people when coupled with the huge cost of gas and electricity.
JRF: little comfort
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s (JRF’s) chief economist Rebecca McDonald said in a press release:
The only comfort today’s announcement offers families feeling the freeze is that inflation hasn’t risen any further. This is the fourth month in five that inflation was over 10%.
Reassurances from government ministers, that things will eventually get better, are hard to stomach if you are one of the people fearing for your future. The government must provide an additional cost of living payment to those that are struggling the most, to help them get through the winter. They cannot wait until April.
So many people were left in this precarious position by a woefully inadequate level of social security. Without substantial changes, it’s clear many people already can’t afford the essentials. No one wants to live in a society that fails to prevent this. People deserve the dignity of knowing that, even when things are extremely difficult, social security allows them to afford basic essentials.
Her comments come after the JRF published a report into the cost of living crisis. It noted that:
low-income households’ finances continue to buckle under the pressure of the cost of living crisis, as 7.2 million are going without the basics, and 4.7 million are behind on their bills. We find that it is households on the very lowest incomes who are struggling the most, with three quarters of those in the bottom 20% of incomes going without food or other basic essentials like clothing or toiletries. People on Universal Credit, private renters and young adults are all seeing rising and worrying levels of hardship.
So, while richer people’s nights out and the cost of running a car will be slightly cheaper than last month, the rest of us are worse off. Christmas will be a horrible experience for millions of people this year.
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.