1. Overview of actual individual consumption in the UK

  • In 2020, the UK actual individual consumption (AIC) per head was 13% higher than the EU27 average.

  • AIC is an indicator that describes the material welfare of households and is derived from purchasing power parities (PPPs), which equalise the purchasing power of different currencies by eliminating the differences in price levels between countries.

  • Price levels for consumer goods and services in the UK for 2020 were 21% above the EU27 average.

  • The data presented in this article are for countries in Europe, produced collaboratively by the Eurostat and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Purchasing Power Parities Programme; harmonised methodology and surveys are used to create direct comparisons between countries.

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2. Annual results

In 2020, consumption per head in the UK, measured using actual individual consumption (AIC) per head, was equivalent to the 11th highest in the EU, equal to that of Finland, below Belgium and above Sweden. This is according to new figures recorded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and compiled and released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, on 15 December 2021.

AIC, which is a measure of material welfare of households, was 13% higher in the UK than the EU27 average; this compares with 17% higher in 2019. Luxembourg was again the highest in the EU (45% above the EU27 average), with Bulgaria the lowest (61% of the EU27 average). AIC per head is often used as a measure of households material welfare. It consists of consumer goods and services consumed by individuals. This is irrespective of whether these goods and services are purchased and paid for by households, by non-profit organisations or by government (such as health and education) services.

Table 1 details EU, EU exit, European Free Trade Association, candidate and accession countries' ranking per head in 2020, by actual individual consumption.

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3. Price levels for consumer goods and services

In 2020, price levels for consumer goods and services differed widely across Europe. Price levels provide a comparison of countries' price levels relative to the EU average, which is now calculated excluding the UK. Denmark has the highest price levels among EU member states, 40% above the average, whilst in Bulgaria the price level was 45% below the EU average. The UK had price levels of 21% above the EU average.

Table 2 details EU, EU exit, European Free Trade Association, candidate and accession countries' ranking in 2020, by price levels for consumer goods and services.

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4. Future developments

Following the UK’s exit from the EU, new governance arrangements are being put in place that will support the adoption and implementation of high-quality standards for UK economic statistics. These governance arrangements will promote international comparability and add to the credibility and independence of the UK’s statistical system. At the centre of this new governance framework will be the new National Statistician’s Committee for Advice on Standards for Economic Statistics (NSCASE). NSCASE will support the UK by ensuring its processes for influencing and adopting international statistical standards are world-leading. The advice NSCASE provides to the National Statistician will span the full range of domains in economic statistics, including the National Accounts, fiscal statistics, prices, trade and the balance of payments and labour market statistics. Further information.

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Contact details for this Article

Richard Harris
Telephone: +44 1633 455921