From the TUC

Inflation moves higher even before VAT rise to 20%

18 Jan 2011, by Guest in Labour market

Higher petrol, diesel, gas and food prices drove inflation higher in December 2010, even before the rate of VAT was raised to 20% at the beginning of January 2011. The Retail Prices Index (RPI) rose to 4.8% in December, up from 4.7% in November. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose to 3.7%, up from 3.3% in November.

This is widespread concern that these levels of inflation are much higher than forecast earlier in 2010 and are likely to be with us for much of 2011. The large rise in the CPI measure will be a blow to the Government and the Bank of England, both of whom seek to target policy on a rate of 2%.

Both the RPI and CPI will be pushed higher by the increase in VAT from 17.5% to 20% from January. The January figures will be released on 15 February 2011.

This does not bode well for economic prospects as the squeeze on incomes may mean that consumer spending will fall and hit output at a time of fragile growth.

There is also concern that CPI inflation may hit 4% in the next three months, with the possibility that the RPI may hit 5%. Most pay bargaining has resulted in pay rises of between 2% and 3% in recent months which means that the vast majority of employees are seeing their disposable incomes shrink by 2% or more. For public service workers faced with pay freezes this year the cut in real incomes is larger. And scheduled increases in National Insurance from April will further reduce pay in real terms.

NOTE: Union officers amongst others will be interested in the conference on Pay Bargaining in an Age of Austerity being organised by Incomes Data Services and the TUC. The conference, on 15 February, will look at the politics of the shift from RPI to CPI, the economic context for this year’s pay round, the future of occupational pensions and developments in regional pay. There are generous discounts for unions making group bookings – contact us for more information at: [email protected]
GUEST POST: Alastair Hatchett is Head of Pay and HR Services at Incomes Data Services, having been the editor of the IDS Pay Report for 20 years until 2005. He leads several teams of researchers whose work on pay and HR studies is highly respected and widely quoted in management, union and government circles. He has been involved in a range of research projects over the past decade for the Low Pay Commission, the Pay Review Bodies, the CIPD, the EOC, Government Departments and a range of unions. He is a regular conference speaker on reward issues, the labour market and employment trends. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Statistical Society.

One Response to Inflation moves higher even before VAT rise to 20%

  1. The Squeeze
    Jan 18th 2011, 6:41 pm

    Bit of a mess isn’t it Alistair? Maybe if they print more money and dole it out to the masses thet’ll sort inflation?