The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation figures this morning for April 2023 at 8.7% pa, down 1.4% pa from March. This fall was not as large as expected with UK food and non-alcoholic beverage inflation still at a 45 year high of 19.1% pa, a fall of just 0.1% since March when it was at 19.2% pa.
Consumer Prices Index (CPI)
UK Consumer Prices Index (CPI) are still in double digit figures at 8.7% pa for March 2023, down from 10.1% pa (March 2023), 10.4% pa (February 2023), 10.2% pa (January 2023), 10.5% pa (December 2022), and 10.7% pa (November 2022).
We know that food and recreation that are keeping prices high as food inflation on its own is up nearly 20% pa when compared to last year, communication costs (our mobile bills have soared as have transport costs with yearly inflation increases priced into mobile contracts and public transport costs). Energy prices rises have slowed down dramatically and only contributed 0.1% pa to the headline inflation rate. Therefore, other sector price rises are slowing down now with household service prices, furniture, clothing, footwear, and restaurant prices all slowing on their rates of increases.
Old Inflation Measure - Retail Prices Index (RPI)
The old measure of inflation RPI, an arithmetical mean of the average prices of a basket of household spending (rather than the geometric mean for CPI), also fell 3.1% to 10.4% pa from 13.5% pa (March 2023).
As anticipated, the Bank of England increased interest rates again this month to 4.5% pa. This was only a 0.25% pa increase rather than the 0.5% pa we think was needed. The Bank of England are juggling with trying to get inflation down but not send the UK into recession and trigger house repossessions with large increases to mortgage repayments.
We said last month, and we say again, a period of high inflation could be around for another 5 years despite the Bank of England 6 months ago suggesting we will be back on target within 2 years. A period of high inflation devalues fixed rate government debt (gilts) over the years meaning that when the government comes to repay its covid-19 and cost of living support debts in say 20-30 years time, their real-time cost is lower, just like an interest only mortgage if you are paying back the original mortgage capital borrowed 25 years ago having paid the interest each month for 25 years.