Services producer price inflation, UK: July to September 2018

Quarterly estimates monitoring the changes in prices charged for services provided to UK-based customers for a range of industries.

This is the latest release. View previous releases

This is an accredited national statistic.

Contact:
Email Martina Portanti

Release date:
17 October 2018

Next release:
16 January 2019

1. Main points

  • The annual rate of growth for the Services Producer Price Index (SPPI) was 1.8% in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2018, up from 1.6% in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2018.

  • The price of services sold by UK companies rose 0.5% in Quarter 3 2018, up from 0.4% in Quarter 2 2018.

  • Transportation and storage services, and professional, scientific and technical activities provided the largest upward contributions to both the annual and quarterly rate.

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2. Things you need to know about this release

A number of important improvements to Services Producer Price Indices (SPPIs) have been introduced in this release, as pre-announced in the last SPPI bulletin published July 2018. These include changing the scope of the survey to measure business-to-all activity as well as expanding the survey coverage to the whole of the UK. All of these changes are described in the November 2016 article Improvements to the Import and Export Price Indices (IPI and EPI) and Services Producer Price Indices (SPPI). The SIC four-digit indices within this second wave of improvements are: 52.1, 52.24, 52.29, 58.1, 74.2, 74.3, 77.32, 78, 81.22, 82.1, 82.92, 85.59 and 96.01. The next wave of improvements will be announced in 2019.

The SPPI provide a measure of inflation for the UK services sector. It is constructed from a statutory quarterly survey, which measures changes in the price of services provided to UK-based customers for a range of industries. Individual SPPIs are available, which provide information on price change for a selection of services industries. These individual price indices are also aggregated together to create a services industry SPPI with limited coverage (it does not provide full coverage of the “services sector”).

The services sector is estimated to account for around 80% of the UK economy based on its weight in gross domestic product (GDP). We do not produce an index for every industry in the services sector and so the SPPI is a partial, best, estimate of the overall inflation to UK businesses in the services sector. The SPPIs presented in this statistical bulletin are estimated to represent 59% of the total services sector at industry level. The SPPI's coverage of the services sector at standard industrial classification (SIC) class, division and section level is available in the SPPI user guidance and methodology article.

As resources allow, we will continue to review the existing indices and expand coverage through developing indices for new industries. As such, the SPPI will change composition from time to time but will always remain our best estimate of inflation in the UK services sector. You should consider that coverage may change over time when deciding which indices best meet your needs.

The figures presented in this statistical bulletin are considered provisional for the latest two quarters and may be revised as late data are received.

All figures presented in this statistical bulletin are calculated on a gross sector basis unless otherwise stated and all index numbers exclude Value Added Tax (VAT). None of the indices presented in this bulletin are seasonally adjusted.

Every five years, SPPIs are rebased and their weights updated to reflect changes in industry.

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3. Services producer price inflation summary

The Services Producer Price Index (SPPI) has reported positive growth for most of the period across the past 10 years (Figure 1). During the economic downturn, SPPI annual growth fell from 3.7% in Quarter 3 (Apr to June) 2008 to a negative 1.6% in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2009, before returning to more typical growth for the remainder of the period. Since a return to positive growth in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2010, the annual rate has averaged 1.2%. The annual inflation rate in the latest quarter was above the average for the period, at 1.8%, and the joint highest annual rate since Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2008.

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4. Annual rate of inflation grows, reaching its highest annual rate since 2010

The Services Producer Price Index (SPPI) rose 1.8% on the year to Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2018, up from 1.6% on the year to Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2018 (Table 1). The price of services sold by UK companies increased 0.5% between Quarter 2 2018 and Quarter 3 2018.

The annual rate has remained positive since Quarter 1 2010, whilst the quarterly rate has remained positive for seven consecutive quarters.

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5. Transportation and storage services provided the largest upward contribution to the annual rate

Of the 10 sections (as defined by the Standard Industrial Classification 2007: SIC 2007) that are combined to form the Services Producer Price Index (SPPI), nine showed annual price increases. Only prices for accommodation and food services are lower now than they were in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2017 (Table 2). Nine industries showed quarterly price increases, with only water supply, sewerage and waste management services falling since Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2018.

Education services showed the largest price increase on the year to Quarter 3 2018 at 7.2% (Table 2). The annual rate was driven by adult education services within business and administration studies.

Transportation and storage services provided the largest upward contribution to the annual rate of 1.8%, contributing 0.56 percentage points (Figure 2). Prices for transportation and storage services rose 2.9% over the year (Table 2), driven by business airfares whose prices increased 5.2% on the year.

Professional, scientific and technical services provided the second-largest upward contribution to the annual rate (0.55 percentage points). The 12-month rate was 2.0% in Quarter 3 2018, up from 1.7% in Quarter 2 2018. Accountancy services were the main contributor to the rate with prices increasing 6.6% on the year.

Professional, scientific and technical services were also the main contributor to the quarterly rate of 0.5%, contributing 0.17 percentage points (Figure 2). Prices within the industry increased 0.7% between Quarter 2 2018 and Quarter 3 2018, driven mainly by prices for accountancy services. Accountancy services increased 3.2% on the quarter; this is the joint highest annual rate for this index since 2010.

Accommodation and food provided the only downward contribution to the annual rate (negative 0.14 percentage points). Prices within the industry fell 2.6% on the year; this is the fourth consecutive quarter when annual rates have been negative. The main driver to the decrease was licensed hotels and motels with restaurants where prices fell 6.5% on the year.

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7. Quality and methodology

The Services Producer Price Indices (SPPI) Quality and Methodology information report contains important information on:

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

If you would like more information about the reliability of the data, the latest SPPI standard errors were published on 4 December 2017. The article presents calculated standard errors for the period between Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2016 and Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2017, for both quarter-on-quarter and 12-month growth. A previous SPPI standard errors article presents the calculated standard errors for the period Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2012 to Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2016.

Guidance on using indices in indexation clauses (2015) has been published. It covers producer prices, services producer prices and consumer prices.

Detailed information on the methods used to compile the SPPI is available in the SPPI manual.

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