Belfast Telegraph

Rise in 'everyday inflation' at odds with latest figures: PwC

The annual rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to 4%, but 'everyday' inflation is closer to 5.1%, according to local business advisors.

Inflation data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has shown headline CPI inflation was 4% in March, down from 4.4% in February.

However, a new index devised by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) includes day-to-day purchases and "necessary family expenses".

Dr Esmond Birnie, chief economist at PwC in Belfast said: "Many people feel that the headline consumer price inflation index fails to reflect the full rate of inflation they face in their regular, everyday purchases.

"Our analysis confirms that this is indeed the case with the 'everyday inflation' rate in March being 5.1% as compared to a headline CPI rate of 4.0%."

However, the drop in CPI inflation has fuelled speculation about next month's Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

April's meeting saw the MPC opting to freeze the cost of borrowing at its record low of 0.5% for a 25th consecutive month.

February's 4.4% inflation figure - 1.6% higher than the EU average - led many to predict a hike in the interest rate in May to help slow soaring prices.

Richard Ramsey, chief economist at Ulster Bank, cites rising inflation and slower growth as the UK's top two concerns.

With figures released on Friday showing a "lacklustre" performance in the construction industry, Ramsey feels overall UK GDP growth could be reduced to 0.4%.

He said: "If such a weak GDP reading materialises on April 27, the MPC would be more inclined to wait until the third quarter to hike interest rates rather than May.

"However, events have now been overtaken by today's weaker-than-expected inflation figures. This surprise development makes it more likely that rates will rise in August rather than May."

Peter Torrens, regional director at Santander's corporate business centre in Belfast, believes the Bank of England will consider the whole picture.

"The MPC did hold rates in April, reflecting the view that inflation should fall next year, and the other economic uncertainties at the present time.

"It will be re-examining the issue in early May, armed not only with these inflation numbers but with the first estimate of GDP growth in the first quarter and some updates on retail trading conditions."