Food inflation surged to 12.4% over the last 12 months to hit a new record amid predictions of dampened Christmas cheer for hard-pressed West of England households.
Items such as eggs, meat, dairy products and coffee shot up, according to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). This lifted fresh food inflation to 14.3%, up from 13.3% last month.
Christmas gifting is also set to become more expensive, the BRC said, with households cutting back on seasonal spending in order to prioritise the essentials.
The latest sobering stats comes as two-thirds of adults are worried about being able to afford a Christmas dinner this year, according to research for the Salvation Army.
Their survey suggests people are planning to use items from food banks for their festive meal.
These soaring prices are a “sucker punch” to locals in the run-up to Christmas, says Metro Mayor Dan Norris – particularly poorer households already struggling with sky-high energy bills and declining real wages, and with fewer options to make cutbacks and savings.
He is calling on ministers to back Labour’s proposal to end the loopholes in the Government’s so-called windfall tax which the party calculates cost the public finances £17bn. Clawing back this money would mean more cash to help hard-pressed West of England households, he added.
Mayor Norris said: “We’ve all seen those sky-high prices in our local supermarkets – these are huge jumps compared to where we were 12 months ago. These latest figures will come as a sucker punch to hard-pressed West of England households. There’s no doubt it will be an extremely difficult Christmas for many residents, and their families. I’m afraid, for ministers, the culprit isn’t Vladimir Putin – we are where we are because the Tories crashed the economy. These figures must serve as a wake-up call for the Government to back Labour’s amendment today for a proper windfall tax on energy giants to deliver real support to protect struggling households this winter and beyond”.
Labour is today tabling an amendment to the bill enacting the Chancellor’s austerity autumn statement, demanding ministers ditch windfall tax allowances for fossil fuel firms which, combined with other measures, like backdating the tax to January 2022, would raise over £17bn.