UK inflation watchers to dig deeper into used car prices, train fares

·2-min read
Increased petrol and diesel prices are seen at a filling station, in London

LONDON (Reuters) - British statisticians will dig more deeply into the prices of second-hand cars and train tickets as part of their push to improve the way they measure inflation, the country's statistics office said on Wednesday.

The inclusion of new data and methods for gathering information on rail fares and used cars would be made a priority for 2023 because of new data availability, the Office for National Statistics said.

In 2024, the focus would be on groceries and rents for private-sector housing.

Around 400,000 second-hand car prices each month will come from a car sales website - compared with around 100 prices a month from an industry handbook now - while new access to a rail database will include almost every ticket bought in Britain.

The ONS also said it would release in June 2023 the initial estimates of price changes based on data taken directly from supermarket tills, giving it more information on the way prices and spending habits are changing.

The data would be brought into headline inflation numbers in just under two years' time, the ONS said.

Britain's inflation rate hit a 30-year high of 7% in March but some anti-poverty campaigners have said the consumer price index fails to capture how prices change for different income groups, especially the poorest households.

Mike Hardie, head of inflation statistics at the ONS, said the agency was developing a new Least Cost Index, based on data from supermarket websites, to show changes in the prices of the cheapest types of food typically bought by the poorest households.

"This will give much better information about how those on the lowest incomes are being affected by changes in the cost of staple food items," Hardie said.

The new index is due to be published in early summer.

(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)

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