1. Main points

  • The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs 12-month inflation rate was 2.6% in July 2017, unchanged from June 2017.
  • CPIH was re-designated as a National Statistic on 31 July 2017.
  • The price of motor fuel continued to fall and provided the largest downward contribution to change in the rate between June 2017 and July 2017.
  • This was offset by smaller upward contributions from a range of goods and services, including clothing, household goods, gas and electricity, and food and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 2.6% in July 2017, unchanged from June 2017.
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2. Things you need to know about this release

The National Statistics status of the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) was reinstated on 31 July 2017. A letter from the Director General for Regulation to the National Statistician detailed the actions that were taken to meet the requirements as set out in the CPIH assessment report.

We have illustrated our future approach to measuring changing prices and costs faced by consumers and households using three “use cases”, along with how they relate to the measures that we currently publish and those that are under development. Specifically, they refer to the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) as our lead measure of inflation based on economic principles; the Household Costs Indices (HCIs, currently under development) as a set of measures to reflect the change in costs as experienced by households; and the Retail Prices Index (RPI) as a legacy measure that is required to meet existing user needs.

Consumer price inflation is the rate at which the prices of goods and services bought by households rise or fall. It is estimated by using price indices. One way to understand this is to think of a shopping basket containing all the goods and services bought by households. Movements in price indices represent the changing cost of this basket. Consumer price indices – a brief guide gives an overview of the indices and their uses.

The most common approach to measuring inflation is the 12-month inflation rate, which compares prices for the latest month with the same month a year ago. In any given month, the 12-month rate is determined by the balance between upward and downward price movements of the range of goods and services included in the index.

This release also examines how the various types of goods and services contribute to the change in the 12-month inflation rate between the latest two months. The size and direction of these contributions depends on how prices changed between both the latest two months this year and the same two months last year. For example, the price of a product could make an upward contribution to the change in the rate even if it fell, provided that it fell by less than it did between the same two months a year ago. Explaining the contribution to change in the 12-month rate covers this concept in more detail.

The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) is the most comprehensive measure of inflation. It extends the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) to include a measure of the costs associated with owning, maintaining and living in one’s own home, known as owner occupiers’ housing costs (OOH), along with Council Tax. Both of these are significant expenses for many households and are not included in the CPI.

Aside from including OOH and Council Tax, CPIH is otherwise identical to CPI. This means that, aside from these two components, the factors contributing to the CPI rate are the same as those contributing to the CPIH. For example, if food is reported as increasing the CPIH rate, it is also acting to increase the CPI rate. The size of the contributions for components other than OOH and Council Tax are exaggerated in the CPI compared with the CPIH because they account for a larger proportion of the overall index.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) is produced at the same level of detail as CPIH, in the accompanying dataset and time series dataset.

The Retail Prices Index (RPI) does not meet the required standard for designation as National Statistics. In recognition that it continues to be widely used in contracts, we continue to publish the RPI, its sub-components and RPIX. To view the all-items RPI and 12-month inflation rate and an at-a-glance comparison with other measures, please see the time series section of the inflation and price indices area of our website. The accompanying dataset and time series dataset provide more detailed information.

The figures in this publication use data collected on or around 11 July 2017.

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3. The CPIH 12-month rate was unchanged in July 2017

The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month rate was 2.6% in July 2017, unchanged from June 2017. It remains higher than the rates generally seen since mid-2013.

All else being equal, the depreciation of sterling seen in 2016 and particularly following the outcome of the EU referendum would increase the prices producers pay for imported goods. Whilst depreciation is likely to increase the cost of imports, other factors determine whether these are passed on to consumers. For example, there were reports of businesses having measures to protect against exchange rate changes in the short-term.

The inflation rate for a range of goods has, however, picked up in recent months. Although depreciation may have influenced this, similar effects are seen in other countries, which points to increasing global commodity prices being an important factor. Conversely, recent falls in global oil prices have pushed down the cost of fuel.

Figure 1 compares the 12-month inflation rates for CPIH and the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), along with the rate for the owner occupiers’ housing costs (OOH) component of CPIH. Given that OOH accounts for around 17% of CPIH, it is the main driver for differences between the CPIH and CPI inflation rates.

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4. The contribution from transport to the CPIH inflation rate has reduced in recent months

Figure 2 shows that price movements for all the broad categories of goods and services had an upward effect on the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month rate in July 2017. The corresponding figures for the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) can be found in column E of Table 26 in the CPI dataset.

Although transport continues to make a large contribution to the rate, this has reduced over the last 3 months.

The largest upward contribution continues to come from housing and household services, mainly from owner occupiers’ housing costs and, to a lesser extent, from electricity prices and Council Tax.

Prices in all broad categories were higher in July 2017 than a year ago with four showing their highest 12-month rate for several years; namely food and non-alcoholic beverages, furniture and household goods, miscellaneous goods and services, and clothing and footwear.

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5. Falling motor fuel prices made the largest downward contribution to change in the CPIH rate between June and July 2017

Figure 3 shows how each of the main groups of goods and services contributed to the change in the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month rate between June and July 2017. The corresponding figures for the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) can be found in column F of Table 26 in the CPI dataset.

The largest downward effect came from transport, in particular motor fuels. Fuel prices fell by 1.3% between June and July 2017, the fifth successive month of price decreases. This contrasts with the same period last year, when fuel prices rose by 0.7%.

This was offset by smaller upward contributions from a range of goods and services. The 12-month inflation rates for some of the broad groupings (namely food and non-alcoholic beverages; clothing and footwear; miscellaneous goods and services; furniture and household goods) have edged up to the highest seen for several years. Prices economic commentary: August 2017 presents further analysis of food inflation.

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8. Quality and methodology

The Consumer Price Inflation Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data
  • users and uses of the data
  • how the output was created
  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

The Consumer Price Indices Technical Manual covers the concepts and methodologies underpinning the indices in more detail.

The CPIH Compendium provides a comprehensive source of information on the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH), with a focus on the approach to measuring owner occupiers’ housing costs (OOH).

The Consumer price inflation basket of goods and services article details the annual review process for the items making up the inflation basket used to calculate the UK consumer price inflation indices and describes the changes in the latest year.

An article on updating weights describes the latest changes to the relative weights of items in the inflation basket to ensure they remain representative of current consumer spending patterns.

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