There was a much-publicised drop in the Consumer Price Index, despite other domestic bills and costs continuing to increase this month.

The Government proudly announced that inflation fell from 2.6% to 2.5% in August, however September has seen calls by the AA to investigate the price of diesel fuel and many energy suppliers have also increased price tariffs in advance of capped rate offer from last year expiring at the end of September.

Under pressure from consumer groups, the OFT has agreed to launch an inquiry into fuel price rises, with diesel having risen 43% from June 2007 compare to petrol, which has increased by 38% in the same period. In addition to continued instability in the Middle East, the OFT is expected to look at the competition occurring between independent pump stations and the major supermarkets to see if competition is being stifled by the main suppliers (thus effectively limiting consumer choice).

There is also an annual outcry over the rates at which some energy companies increase prices. Granted, following the fall of confidence and investment in nuclear power following the Fukishima plant meltdown, it was likely that natural gas and oil prices would increase due to demand, but invariably energy suppliers continue to make large profits despite a few conciliatory fixed rate packages offered to consumers.

The sharp-eyed and eared out there may have already started experiencing the slew of energy company cold-calling and sales tactics to try and win over consumers to “cheaper” rates. Last year many of these rates suddenly escalated after an aggressive sales push by a well-known energy provider. Although you are well-advised to shop around for the best price, be careful of the small print and get a competitive price locked in for as long as you are able!

Ultimately, although much political mileage is made out of the Consumer Price Index, it doesn’t tend to reflect the daily experience of consumers. House repairs and mortgage rates become some complicated to calculate in the index they are left out, other issues emerge around price selection of products and the actual methodology used is frequently criticised and debated among statisticians: it becomes clear that you need to be very specific in the questions you wish the CPI to answer . . . as a generally indicator it is highly flawed.



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