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Rip-off Britain: Food and fuel rises lead to highest inflation rate in West


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Rip-off Britain: Food and fuel rises lead to highest inflation rate in West



By Sean Poulter

Last updated at 11:02 PM on 02nd March 2010




Rising prices: The cost of food in the UK has increased significantly


Price rises by supermarkets and energy giants have left Britain with the highest inflation rate in the Western world, figures reveal.


They show that the UK has suffered significant increases in the cost of food while many similar countries had falls.


Energy price rises have also been higher here than in most other nations, according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.


The OECD found that Britain's CPI inflation rate in January of 3.5 per cent was two or three times higher than other Western European nations.


The Daily Mail's own Cost of Living Index found in January that a basket of the most commonly bought foods had increased in cost by 7.5 per cent in 12 months. It also revealed a near 30 per cent rise in unleaded petrol prices.


Energy prices in the UK rose by 7.8 per cent over the year, said the OECD. This compares with just 1 per cent in Germany, and 6.1 per cent in France.


LibDem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said: 'With large profits posted by supermarkets and energy companies it would appear that some of them are taking advantage of their strong market position over their suppliers and customers.'


He added: 'With a weak pound and an increase in VAT it is inevitable that there would be a rise in inflation.


'However the level of inflation in food and energy prices is considerably in excess of many other European countries even allowing for these factors.'





The Government's decision to put VAT back up from 15 per cent to 17.5 per cent in January has hit consumers in the pocket.

But as VAT does not apply to most food products this does not explain the soaring cost of grocery bills.

And energy bills have stayed high despite the fact wholesale prices have plunged compared with their peak in the summer of 2008.


Scott Byrom of the price comparison site moneysupermarket.com said: 'Customers are still paying average gas bills of nearly £800 even though the price of wholesale gas fell by 60 per cent from mid 2008 to the end of 2009.'

Supermarket trade body The British Retail Consortium (BRC), denied accusations of profiteering.


Its figures show that while food price inflation was a high 2.9 per cent in January, it fell to 1.3 per cent in February.


BRC director general, Stephen Robertson, said: 'Rates of change tell you nothing about the actual levels of prices. UK shop prices are consistently lower than in other EU countries.'


He suggested food prices will remain stable from now on, saying: 'Previous falls in the value of the pound and large commodity price increases, which were pushing up food prices, have now largely worked through.'

Christine McGourty of Energy UK, which speaks for suppliers, said: 'The most recent government figures show that prices for domestic gas and electricity consumers are among the lowest of all the leading European countries.


'The UK remains one of the most competitive energy markets in the world.'

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