To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of food inflation on family budgets in (1) Northern Ireland, (2) England, (3) Scotland, and (4) Wales.
Tackling inflation is this government’s number one priority, with a plan to more than halve inflation this year.
Annual food price inflation, reported by the ONS, was 19.1% in April 2023. This was a decrease of 0.1 percentage points on the March 2023 rate. Overall CPI inflation decreased to 8.7% in April 2023 down from 10.1% in March 2023. The rate of food price inflation in the UK equalled the average rate for the EU in March 2023.
The recent high levels of inflation have primarily been driven by higher energy prices and pressures on global supply chains and there are signs those are beginning to ease. Industry analyst expectations are that we are either at or approaching the food price inflation peak, from which point they expect food price inflation to gradually decrease over the remainder of 2023. We will need several more months of data to be confident that the fall this month is a reflection that the peak has already been reached.
While we do not have individual data on food price inflation rates for the devolved nations, we do have some statistics from the Office of National Statistics on differences in average household spend for the different devolved nations. For the year from April 1st 2020 to March 31st 2021, UK households spent on average £64.90 on food and non-alcoholic beverages, compared to £65.50 for England, £62.20 for Wales, £60.10 for Scotland and £70 for NI. As a proportion of total expenditure, this was 11.7% for UK, 11.5% for England, 12.7% for Wales, 12.4% for Scotland and 14.6% for Northern Ireland.
The average impact of food inflation on household budgets within each of the devolved administrations will depend on both the relevant food inflation rate, and the proportion of total expenditure spend on food per household in that region.
The Government understands the pressures people are facing with the current exceptionally high cost of living. To protect the most vulnerable from the worst of cost-of-living pressures, the Chancellor recently announced a package of targeted support worth £26 billion, which includes continued support for rising energy bills.