In the latest economic update, the UK’s inflation rate has taken a significant dip, landing at 4.6% for the year up to October. This figure, revealed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), marks a considerable decrease from September’s 6.7% rate and even falls below the predicted 4.7%. The primary drivers behind this decline are reduced costs in energy and food. However, it’s important to note that core inflation (which excludes volatile prices like energy and food) also dropped to 5.7%.
Grant Fitzner, ONS’s chief economist, attributes this decrease partly to a slight reduction in energy prices following last year’s sharp rise.
Rishi Sunak’s Inflation Pledge
This drop in inflation signals good news for Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who pledged to halve the inflation rate from its peak of 10.7% by year’s end. This goal seems achievable, provided the rate doesn’t climb in the final months of the year. Despite this positive trend, inflation remains above the Bank of England’s ideal target of 2%.
What Does Lower Inflation Mean for You?
Inflation impacts your daily life, influencing everything from fuel costs to mortgage rates. It’s calculated by comparing the current cost of goods and services to their cost a year prior. A 5% inflation rate, for instance, means prices have risen by 5% over the year. This price rise reduces the real value of your money, affecting your purchasing power. For example, interactive investor research indicates that the average UK household lost £5,455 in purchasing power over the past two years due to inflation.
A lower inflation rate means your money can stretch further, as essential items like food and fuel are not increasing in price as rapidly.
Impact on Mortgages, Savings, and Pensions
While mortgage rates are not directly tied to inflation, they are influenced by the Bank of England’s base rate, which is affected by inflation. Currently, lenders are lowering rates to stimulate competition, with some rates falling below 5%. However, these often come with high fees. Experts anticipate further rate reductions in the coming months.
High inflation typically hurts savers by diminishing the value of their bank-held money. A lower inflation rate is, therefore, better for savers. Currently, the best easy access savings account offers a 5.22% rate at Metro Bank, surpassing inflation, with Metro also offering a top one-year fixed rate at 5.91%.
The reduction in inflation is a relief for pensioners, particularly those relying heavily on state pensions. They could see an 8.5% increase in their state pension next year under the triple lock mechanism, although this increase is partly inflated by bonuses in sectors like the NHS and civil service.
Future Interest Rate Predictions
Despite the fall in inflation, interest rate forecasts remain unchanged. Economists predict the base rate to hold at 5.25% into the new year before potentially dropping in late 2024. This stability will be influenced by global events, including the Israel-Hamas conflict and the ongoing situation in Ukraine.
The Bank of England, under Governor Andrew Bailey, maintains that interest rates must stay high or possibly increase to achieve the 2% inflation target. Bailey emphasizes the need for vigilance, as “Inflation is still too high.”
The Complex Reality Behind Inflation’s Drop
While lower inflation seems like an immediate financial relief, its implications are more intricate. The economic landscape is influenced by numerous factors, and while the decrease in inflation brings some positive changes, it’s crucial to stay informed and prepared for the varying impacts it may have on different aspects of your finances.