Inflation jumped for the first time in three months in February, with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) coming in at 10.4%, official data showed.
Analysts had predicted in a slight drop to 9.9%, rather than an increase in the headline rate. The shock increase was caused by another near record rise in food prices. By one measure, the cost of food increased by 18.2% in the year to February, which was the fastest rise since 1977.
Gary Smith, GMB General Secretary, said:
“This spike in the inflation figures might defy predictions, but it will come as no surprise to working people who struggle to buy food and pay their energy bills. It shows that the Government is utterly complacent about the wages crisis. The fact that Rishi Sunak is off-track even on his utterly modest inflation targets should be a huge warning to working people – who face yet more pain due to the Tories’ disastrous economic policies.”
Unite responded by saying that workers have no choice but to fight for better wages. Commenting on the latest ONS inflation figures released, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:
“Inflation is back on the rise and workers continue to be hammered by high prices. Unite’s own research shows that it’s profits propelling inflation, while workers’ wages struggle to keep up. In 2021, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda made combined profits of £3.2 billion, nearly double pre-pandemic levels. It’s no wonder workers are struggling with rising food prices.”
There’s no end in sight to the cost of living crisis and people are sick of seeing their budgets get stretched thinner and thinner every month while big business racks up record profits. Unite’s ongoing fight to win better jobs, pay and conditions continues.”
New Unite research, analysing the FTSE 350 shows how profit margins for the first half of 2022 were 89% higher compared to the same period in 2019.
The Trades Union Congress called out the government for failing to prioritise support for families against the cost-of-living crisis in the Spring Budget last week. Paul Nowak, General Secretary of the TUC, said the country needed a comprehensive plan to build an economy that doesn’t prioritise the wealthy.
“Families are still under massive pressure from the rising cost of living, with food prices rising especially fast. But they got next to no help from last week’s budget. We need a comprehensive plan to get wages rising across the economy, and to boost social security. That’s how we build an economy that rewards work not wealth.”