Blackpool is said to have the second highest rate of inflation in the country, according to a survey by Centre for Cities. Image: michaeldbeckwith.com
The cost of living crisis is deepening regional inequality and inflation has already hit double figures in parts of the north, the Midlands and Wales, according to a new tool that lets people find out how inflation is impacting their area.
A report by Centre for Cities found the large numbers of poorly-insulated homes and heavy reliance on cars is causing inflation to rise a lot faster for households outside of the south of England.
Alongside the study, the charity created this tool that estimates the scale of the crisis across England and Wales.
UK inflation – the measure of how prices are changing – increased to 9.1 per cent in May, the highest rate in 40 years.
Centre for Cities found rocketing energy bills and petrol prices have made workers in the north, Midlands and Wales £131 a month poorer on average, while workers in the south have lost around £103 a month – a difference of £336 a year.
Burnley is the hardest hit, with an estimated inflation rate of 11.5 per cent in May, followed by Blackpool and Blackburn at 11 per cent, and Bradford at 10.9 per cent. In the Midlands, Leicester is among those most affected at 10.8 per cent, while in Wales, Swansea has a rate of 10.7 per cent.
Meanwhile, London and Cambridge are seeing inflation at 8.8 per cent each – meaning Burnley’s rate is around 30 per cent higher.
Responding to the findings, Bradford West MP Naz Shah told The Big Issue: “It’s no longer about whether people are feeling the pinch or not, it’s about people having to choose between skipping one meal or two every day.
“Yet, while this country is facing the worst cost of living crisis in recent history, the party in government is busy playing politics in a leadership race.
“What this country needs is a general election and a serious government ready to get the country out of this mess.”
In Burnley, where more than 70 per cent of homes have an energy efficiency rating below band C, annual energy bills in 2021 were £1,272 on average. In Milton Keynes, where 50 per cent of homes have high energy efficiency, yearly bills were £889 on average. These differences are set to grow more as prices increase.
Find out how the cost of living is impacting your area using the below tool.
Rishi Sunak brought in cost of living measures as chancellor, providing £15billion to help struggling households. But Centre for Cities, which based the study on its own city-level inflation estimates for England and Wales, combined with an analysis on wages growth, says it’s not enough.
The charity is calling on ministers to increase benefits in line with inflation, bring back the £20 universal credit uplift and give people living in homes with energy efficiency ratings of below C a one-off payment to help with bills.
Chief executive Andrew Carter said: “The entire country has been impacted by the cost of living crisis but our research clearly shows some areas are being hit much harder than others. Worryingly, the north, Midlands, and Wales are struggling with higher rates of inflation that are further squeezing finances and leaving their residents hundreds of pounds worse off.
“These disparities prove that levelling up our cities to tackle spatial inequalities and futureproof the economy is more important than ever.
“In the short-term it is imperative that those most vulnerable are given the support they need to get through this crisis. Even while Westminster’s political situation is uncertain, ministers must act quickly to protect the areas most impacted and ensure they don’t fall even further behind.”
A government spokesperson said: “We recognise the challenges households are facing with the cost of living, which is why we’re providing a £37billion package of support that is helping millions of people deal with rising living costs.
“We’re investing £6.6billion in total this parliament to improve energy efficiency across the country, benefiting tens of thousands of homes and delivering savings of £300 a year on average on their energy bills.
“The changes we’ve made to universal credit mean that 1.7 million households will on average keep around an extra £1,000 on an annual basis.”
Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Christmas. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Christmas.