Amid persistent double-digit inflation, food prices in the UK have reached their highest point in nearly 50 years while real wages continue to decline.
In March, the consumer price index (CPI) in the UK remained at 10.1%, as per research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Although the inflation rate, the highest in Western Europe, had marginally decreased from 10.4% from the previous month, food prices continued to surge, reaching levels unseen in the last 45 years.
The government’s statistical agency reported that the prices of bread and cereals had surged by 19.4% in the year leading up to March, marking the highest ever recorded rate since the government started monitoring such data in 1989.
The sharpest price hikes were observed among food items manufactured with olive oil, which had increased by 49% from the previous year, followed by dairy products at 38% and ready-made meals at 21%, as per the BBC.
UK food price inflation now 19.2%. Pushes more households into poverty and food cutbacks. No wonder Cost of Living Commission I’m on hears of “destitution”. People go without food not for a single day but for more. Silence from Govt. So much for taking back control in unequal UK. pic.twitter.com/ZTRj91xEzQ
— Professor Tim Lang (@ProfTimLang) April 19, 2023
The annual rates for chocolate, confectionery and hot beverages have also surged to their peak levels ever recorded.
Despite expectations of a drop to 9.8%, the inflation rate remained persistently high, although it was marginally lower than the previous month and significantly lower than the 41-year high of 11.1% reported in October.
The dip to 10.1% was linked to the decrease in gas prices from the previous year when the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused global prices to soar. However, household gas and electricity costs remained high for British consumers.
Simultaneously, Britons have been grappling with the impact of inflation on their earnings, with the National Institute for Economic and Social Research indicating that the average worker is, in fact, worse off than the preceding year.
The research discovered that actual wages, calculated by measuring earnings against inflation, had fallen by 3 percent in real terms over the past year. Despite a wage growth of 6.6 percent in the three months leading up to February, the rise was inadequate in comparison to the increase in the cost of living, ultimately resulting in an effective decrease in pay.
The public sector workforce, as per the think tank, has been the most impacted by inflation, with their earnings declining by an average of 3.5 percent in actual terms, in comparison to the 2.8 percent decrease experienced by private sector employees.
Despite this, there has been little effort from the current Conservative government led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to lessen the tax burden on the public, which is currently at its highest level since World War II.