The cost of living

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This outline of changes in the cost of living sets out the rates of inflation that workers have been facing over recent months and years, the main factors in those changing costs, the forecast levels of inflation in coming years and estimates of the differing level of inflation facing the low-paid.

1. Historical inflation rates

The most widely reported measure of inflation in the UK is the Consumer Prices index (CPI). However, the most accurate indicator of changes in the cost of living facing workers is the Retail Prices Index (RPI) [for the reasons why RPI is most relevant, see section 6 below]

Inflation has generally been in decline over the last two years and over 2015 they have stablilised with CPI around zero and RPI around 1%. The latest inflation figures to December 2015 put RPI at 1.2% and CPI at 0.2%.

Source: Office for National Statistics website at

Between the start of 2010 and the close of 2015, the cost of living, as measured by the Retail Prices Index, rose by a total of 19.5%.

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