In June the headline CPI came in on the Bank of England’s target rate of 2pc, and could well slip back to 1.9pc, which would mean that real wages are rising at 2pc per annum, though with RPI at 2.9pc it sounds better than it is. Core prices are also set to slide as well, down to 1.8pc.
Given all the doom and gloom surrounding Brexit, and concerns about job losses, this is welcome news, though how long it will last remains to be seen.
For many people, however, RPI is the figures to watch. That’s because it is the number used to calculate how much rail fairs rise by. My colleague Oliver Gill writes this morning:
Consumer groups will be up in arms. Unions will once again hold this up as a banner of how private capital fails. There’ll be a steady stream of figureheads demanding change and saying enough is enough.
In one sense, it’s absolutely bonkers that train price increases are linked to the retail price index (RPI). This higher rate hasn’t been this country’s official measure for more than eight years. Not for the first time, the railways are open to criticism of being gravely behind the times.
Linking fares to the consumer price index (CPI) instead would give passengers some reprieve. Roughly speaking, using it would save a tenner on the price of a £1,000 season ticket. The problem is, such a change upsets a delicate financial equilibrium.
- You can read his full explanation of the figures — and why they cause so much trouble — here: Ministers must admit to the real reason why train tickets are going up