Across the country in June, inflation is at its highest for 40 years, but Sky News analysis of the latest ONS figures shows shoppers in London are facing price rises double those seen in Yorkshire.
In addition to London, prices in Wales and Northern Ireland have risen by more than 10% compared to June last year, which is higher than the overall national inflation figure of 9.4%.
Food prices have risen by less than services overall, and both significantly less than goods, but there is still a clear difference in how the prices of different types of goods rise in different nations and regions of the UK.
The ONS measures inflation by keeping a record of the prices of 730 foods, goods and services that are intended to be representative of what UK consumers spend their money on. The list, known as the “shopping basket”, is updated every year to keep it relevant.
Part of the way they keep track of price changes is by visiting stores around the UK and recording prices seen on shelves, which are then published in full, including a weighting based on the type of store and how representative the item is is. For example, the price of a major brand seen in many stores may be given more weight than a private label version of the same item.
The figures we have analyzed only cover items found in the store, while the ONS also records some of the prices online and over the phone.
Essential costs such as petrol, energy and housing are also excluded from the publication, so the figures are not directly comparable to the headline ONS inflation figure. However, they do give an insight into the different costs of living that people face in different parts of the UK.
‘Personal consumption habits really matter’
This does not necessarily mean that people in the places where prices have risen the fastest will end up worse off.
Jack Leslie, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, who specializes in inflation and wealth inequality, said that “personal and local consumption patterns really matter.”
“If you’re someone who lives in a small, energy-efficient flat in London and doesn’t own a car, your personal level of inflation will be much lower than someone who lives in a leaky mansion in the Scottish Highlands. , because the energy price cap is increased, and you must drive loaded.
“There has been a longer-term trend for housing and other living costs to rise in areas where wages are highest, so there are less differences in living standards between nations and regions than appears on the surface. These figures contribute to that.
“But it’s not good news that these gaps are closing, it’s just that some places are doing worse than others. All places are going to be hit really hard by the cost of living crisis. No one can escape it. People’s real incomes are falling and that’s causing a lot of stress and hassle and potentially pushing people into poverty.”
Expense calculator: Which prices have gone up – or down?
Some places in England and Wales are harder hit by the crisis than others
Figures released by HMRC on Tuesday show that while average wages have risen across the UK, prices have generally risen faster.
People still earn more in London than other parts of the country, £2,556 a month compared to a UK average of £2,108 and less than £2,000 in the North of England, the Midlands, the South West and Northern Ireland.
But lower wage growth and higher living costs means that there is not the same difference when it comes to living standards.
How much more is a pint in different parts of the country?
Our analysis also shows the price range of certain items in different nations and regions.
Although there is only a five pence difference between the average price of milk in the cheapest part of the country compared to the most expensive (£1.28 for four pints of whole milk in the North West versus £1.33 in the North East), there are wider differences. when it comes to things like alcohol.
A pint of draft bitters will set you back £2.89 in the North West on average, but £1.50 more in London. It’s a similar story for wine and lager, while the cheapest whiskey is – perhaps unsurprisingly – in Scotland.
Leslie says that regional differences in hospitality costs usually reflect wage differences: “A large part of the cost of dining out would come from the cost of hiring the chef, the waiters and whoever else works there.”
Other factors that make a difference to price changes at the local level include the amount of produce that is imported versus what is made or grown locally, and the types of stores people are used to using.
Leslie says that during the pandemic, “people became less willing to go to the big supermarket and there was more demand for local corner stores”, especially in built-up areas.
He added: “I would expect imported products to have risen in price faster than non-imported products due to disruptions in supply chains and exchange rates.”
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(c) Sky News 2022: How much more does a pint cost in London? How inflation affects different parts of the UK