Millions of households 'skipping meals' as food price inflation hits 9.2 percent

Millions of households 'skipping meals' as food price inflation hits 9.2 percent

Former BoE advisor reacts to inflation figures

Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell

Published: 28/12/2023

- 12:38

Inflation has eased in recent months but food prices continue to remain high for many families

Millions of families across the country are skipping meals as food price inflation in the UK hits 9.2 percent, experts have warned.

Earlier this month, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation for the 12 months to November 2023 eased to 3.9 percent.

While the CPI rate has fallen in recent months, food price inflation reached 9.2 percent over the same period of time.

This means that many households are not seeing the benefits of overall inflation easing and signals the economy has yet to bounce back.

Woman looking at bills

Families are dealing with hiked prices for groceries


Rachelle Earwaker, a senior economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, warned food price inflation “remains high”, despite a bigger than expected fall in headline inflation.

She added: “Many families have spent the past year skipping meals and cutting down on food to try and cope with higher prices.

“Over two million families have already taken on debt to pay for birthday gifts and other occasions.”

According to the think tank’s cost of living tracker, 5.7 million low-income families have reduced their spending on gifts for family due to cost since April 2021.

Another 1.8 million low-income families said while they have not done so yet, they were planning to in the coming months.

In October 2023, 2.4 million low-income families said they were currently holding a loan or credit that they had originally taken out help to pay for gifts or special occasions like Christmas or birthdays.

Some 73 percent of low-income families on Universal Credit experienced food insecurity in the same month.

According to Ms Earwaker, changes need to be made to benefits like Universal Credit to better assist those on low incomes.

Universal Credit guide and calculator in pictures

Experts are calling for changes to Universal Credit to better help families


Ms Earwaker added: “It’s not right that our social security system, which is meant to protect all of us when we fall on hard times, doesn’t give families enough to afford the essentials.

“No one should feel ashamed, stressed or anxious because of the cost of Christmas.

“All political parties must commit to introducing an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ to Universal Credit to ensure everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford the essentials.”

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