Jack Monroe Points Out Cost Of Living Measure Shake-Up Was Not The Result Of A 'Row'

·4 min read
<strong>Jack Monroe had laid bare how the rising cost of everyday food items were far outstripping the official measure of inflation. </strong> (Photo: Jonathan Brady - PA Images via Getty Images)
Jack Monroe had laid bare how the rising cost of everyday food items were far outstripping the official measure of inflation. (Photo: Jonathan Brady - PA Images via Getty Images)

Jack Monroe has said statistics officials overhauling the way they calculate changes to the cost of living was not the result of the campaigner being ”combative or demanding”.

The food writer, who has exposed inequality in Britain for more than a decade, has highlighted how inflation has hit the cost of everyday essentials, in turn decreasing the availability of value product lines and severely impacting poorer families.

Her argument was laid out in a series of widely-shared tweets published last week which were seized on by the media.

Monroe went through individual food items and explained how there had been a 344% price increase for basic items such as rice in supermarkets. Baked beans were 22p, and now are 32p, canned spaghetti was 13p, now 35p and bread was 45p, now 58p.

Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Monroe said: “I did a £10 food shop in 2012 for the Sunday People and re-did the exact same shop over the weekend and it came to £17.11.

“Now benefits haven’t doubled in that time, wages haven’t doubled in that time so people are being forced to buy less, and eat less and consume less.

“It’s the people who aren’t represented in the media, and who don’t have a voice, who are just having to make these absolutely terrible decisions, missing meals in order to feed their children or because they simply can’t afford to eat anymore.

“It’s a shocking thing to be talking about it one of the richest economies of the world.”

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week announced that inflation jumped to a near 30-year high of 5.4% in December. But, as Monroe had laid bare, the cost of items such as pasta went up significantly more.

On Wednesday, the ONS confirmed it will dramatically widen the number of products it tracks the pricing of to give a better picture of inflation. The policy change was hailed as a victory for her campaign – but Monroe took issue with how the shake-up was being “framed”.

She wrote on Twitter: “I find it very revealing how different news outlets frame this: BBC: ‘Jack Monroe row’

“Telegraph: ‘Jack Monroe’s demands’

“ITV: ‘Jack Monroe pressure’

“FT: ‘Why supermarkets should listen to Jack Monroe’

“Mirror, People, Guardian: ‘Jack Monroe’s campaign’.

“If I did have a PR team they’d probably tell me not to tweet this, but I’ve been very levelheaded and calm throughout this entire mad 9 days, and resent being framed as combative or demanding simply for politely asking that all people are represented equally in national stats.

“I know throughout the last decade of anti poverty campaigning I have been fiery, impassioned, sometimes a bit fierce, but I believe the reason this campaign has been as successful as it has been is because I’ve kept my head and my manners, alone, under immense pressure. Thanks.”

On Wednesday, Monroe tweeted: “Delighted to be able to tell you that the ONS have just announced that they are going to be changing the way they collect and report on the cost of food prices and inflation to take into consideration a wider range of income levels and household circumstances.”

Mike Hardie, head of prices at the ONS, said in a blog post: “We are currently developing radical new plans to increase the number of price points dramatically each month from 180,000 to hundreds of millions, using prices sent to us directly from supermarket checkouts.

“This will mean we won’t just include one apple in a shop – picked to be representative based on shelf space and market intelligence – but how much every apple costs, and how many of each type were purchased, in many more shops in every area of the country.

“While it will not show us what each consumer has bought, protecting their privacy, it will show exactly what has been sold and for how much, giving us even more detail on how inflation is affecting UK households.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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