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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 00:33 GMT
ONS highlights personal inflation
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Now you can measure your very own inflation rate
Members of the public can now work out their own personal inflation rate using an official government website.

An online calculator will enable people to work out how their spending compares with national averages.

The Office for National Statistics wants to give people a better insight into the goods and services pushing inflation higher - currently at 2.7%.

It will also help explain why people's experience of rising prices is often different from the official version.

"The most important (reason) is that the national inflation figures are based on average spending patterns," said national statistician Karen Dunnell.

"But every household is different, and the way inflation affects them depends on how they spend their money."

The calculator, being launched at 0700 GMT on Monday, will let people know if their own household's inflation rate is higher or lower than the national one.

It will not let them input exact details of their own spending, just their typical spending on a wide range of goods and services.

Rising inflation

Pressure groups for the elderly, the poor and the unemployed have long complained that the cost of living for particular groups in society is often very different - usually worse - than that suggested by the official government average.

The UK's elderly have consistently been hardest hit by inflation among all the age groups
Shona Dobbie, Alliance Trust

Last December Help the Aged said the official inflation figures were "stuck in fantasy land" as many pensioners have to spend a disproportionately large part of their income on items such as fuel, council tax and water rates - which have been rising.

An investment trust company Alliance Trust calculates that inflation is currently highest for the over-75s, at 4.1%.

Shona Dobbie of Alliance Trust said: "Our four-year study shows that the UK's elderly have consistently been hardest hit by inflation among all the age groups and their inflation has risen to record levels since 2003.

"Although the inflation rate facing every age group is on the rise, the impact on some of the younger age groups is lessened by falling prices for clothing, footwear, household appliances, audio visual equipment and petrol."

Last week the Bank of England announced a surprise rise in interest rates to 5.25% because it fears that inflationary pressures are building up in the economy.

It is widely expected that the official inflation rate - the Consumer Prices Index - may reach nearly 3% when it is announced on Tuesday, partly thanks to things like rising utility bills.

The 2.7% figure recorded for November was the highest for almost a decade.

Personal inflation

With the Consumer Prices Index being made up of prices from hundreds of different goods and services, judicious spending can lead to someone enjoying their own, low, inflation rate.

Stay in and order all your clothes by mail order
Roger Bootle, Capital Economics

Roger Bootle, of Capital Economics, has recently devised a similar calculator for a national newspaper website, and has some tips to beat inflation.

"Stay in and order all your clothes by mail order," he said. "The cost of clothes and footwear has dropped by 40% in the past 10 years.

"Don't drink and smoke a lot and avoid restaurants like the plague.

"Also, don't have kids and if you do, definitely do not educate them privately."

At any one time, different groups of people will have different rates of inflation.

But Andrew West, an economist at the Institute of Fiscal Studies, said someone suffering from higher-than-average inflation today may not be doing so in a year's time.

"Over the last 25 years pensioners' inflation has been a little bit below the average," he pointed out.

"They will have below average inflation again if fuel prices come down."




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