Nearly half of Britons are struggling to pay their energy bills, new official data revealed today – as the price of the cheapest groceries rose by 17 per cent.
The cost of the lowest priced vegetable oils and pasta in British supermarkets has soared by nearly two-thirds in the last year, the Office of National Statistics found.
The ONS said the cost of the cheapest vegetable oil had spiked 65% and the cheapest pasta was now 60% more expensive than a year ago.
Other grocery staples that have risen sharply in the year to September include tea (46%), chips (39%), bread (38%) and biscuits (34%).
The Office for National Statistics said the cost of the lowest-priced vegetable oil had spiked 65 per cent and the cheapest pasta was now 60 per cent more expensive than a year ago
Other grocery staples that have risen sharply in the year to September include tea (46%), chips (39%), bread (38%) and biscuits (34%). Only sugar, beef mince and orange juice have reduced in price
Orange juice (-9%), minced beef (-7%), sugar (-0.3%) and rice (-0.2%) were the only staples to see their prices fall.
The rises in the cheapest available items are broadly in line with the average food price rises, according to the ONS – which compiled the figures by ‘scraping’ around 1.5 million prices from supermarket websites every month.
Alongside these figures, the ONS analysed responses from 13,305 people aged 16 and over in Britain to track the impact of increased cost of living as part of its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.
This shows nearly half (45%) of adults were struggling to afford their energy bills at the beginning of October.
This rose to seven in 10 (72%) of people with prepayment meters, 55% of disabled people, 44% of white adults, 69% of black adults and 59% of British Asians.
Overall, 3% of adults reported being in arrears on their rent or mortgage payments, and 5% reported being behind on their energy bills. This rose to 4% and 7% of disabled people respectively.
Adults who were renting their home were more likely than those paying a mortgage to find it difficult to afford their energy, rent or mortgage payments.
Around one in 10 (11%) renters reported being behind on their energy bills, and 5% reported being behind on their rent payments. This is compared with 3% and 1% of those with a mortgage respectively.
And 60% of renters reported finding it difficult to afford their energy bills, compared with 43% of those with a mortgage, while 39% struggled with affording rent, versus 23% of people who found it difficult to pay their mortgage.
The rises in the cheapest available food items are broadly in line with the average food price rises, according to the ONS
Commenting on today’s figures, the National Statistician Sir Ian Diamond said: ‘While the recent spike in inflation began with energy prices, today’s fresh insights using a new innovative data source show they are now filtering through to other important items, with the cheapest price of some staple food items rising by around two thirds in the last year.
‘Figures from our near real time survey of people show that while rises in food and energy costs are affecting many people across the country, those who are disabled, from certain ethnic minority backgrounds and renters are among those struggling the most.
‘With rises in the cost of living at the forefront of many people’s minds, our new, almost real time, data showing just how prices are changing and shining a light on how different groups are affected have never been more important.’
Coming up with a plan to help families struggling with skyrocketing energy bills and soaring inflation will be one of the key priorities for Rishi Sunak, who is set to become Prime Minister today.
The ONS also found half (45%) of adults were struggling to afford their energy bills at the beginning of October. This rose to 72% of people on prepayment meters
While Mr Sunak’s reign as Chancellor during the early days of the Covid pandemic — plus his generous Eat Out To Help Out giveaway — was an undoubted hit with the electorate, his attempts to force taxpayers to start footing the bill for them were predictably less popular.
In March this year, he unveiled a Spring Budget that inked in tax rises and did little to help consumers struggling with the cost of heating their homes.
Any action he now takes will be tempered by the fact he faces a £40bn black hole in the public finances.