Food prices rise at the second highest rate seen for over 45 years (Picture: Alex Liivet)

Official inflation figures are down—a bit—but still show huge price rises. There can be no let-up in the fight for pay rises far in excess of what the Tories and the bosses are offering at the moment.

The government’s preferred CPI measure of inflation was at 8.7 percent last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced on Wednesday morning. The Financial Times commented the figures showed “a smaller fall than the Bank of England expected”. It added it “will come as a blow to ministers and the central bank”.

The more accurate RPI index, which includes housing costs, was at 11.4 percent. Inflation is the rate at which prices are rising. A drop in inflation does not mean prices are falling, but just that the rate of increases is slowing. 

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Falling inflation does not mean we’ve reached a turning point where things can only get better. In the real world, there’s no end in sight to the cost of living crisis.

“The cost of food is now reaching record highs— driven by rampant profiteering by the supermarkets, in particular. Until profiteering is challenged there can be no respite from continuing inflation.”

The figures all miss out the real situation ordinary people face. The same ONS release said prices for food and non-alcoholic drinks rose by 19 percent in a year. This is the second highest rise seen for over 45 years.

Poorer households, which spend a greater proportion of their income on essentials such as food, face a much higher set of price rises than richer ones. The rate at which food prices are rising remains “incredibly high”, said research firm Kantar this week.

Kantar said an average annual grocery bill is now up to £833 higher than a year ago. The main reason the rate of inflation is going down is that the surge in gas and electricity costs is levelling off. 

This time last year, energy bosses sent prices through the roof. Those price rises are still hitting people, but the wholesale price of gas and electricity has fallen so much that now firms can make obscene profits without raising prices.

The energy regulator, Ofgem, is tipped to reveal on Thursday that the price cap will fall to £2,053 per year from July-September. But bills have still doubled since 2021 while wholesale gas is now 11 times cheaper than it was last August.

The Unison union tweeted, “The truth is that inflation is far outstripping wages. Food prices are still soaring. It’s just not sustainable for the average family. 

“It’s a cost of living crisis of the government’s making, and working people are paying the price.” That’s true and it means workers have to pressure their union leaders to fight.

And they also urgently need to organise against trade union leaders’ attempts to ram through deals that mean massive real-terms pay cuts.

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