INCREASE: Bread price has soared

THE cost of basic foods has soared by nearly 10 times the official inflation rate.

A loaf of sliced white bread and a packet of butter now add up to £2.33 – a 43 per cent rise from £1.62 last year.

Eggs are up 27 per cent at £2.90 a dozen, cheddar cheese is 25 per cent dearer at £7.04 a kilo and best mince is up 20 per cent to £5.80 a kilo.

As the Office for National Statistics figures were released, Chancellor Alistair Darling was telling Britons not to worry and said we would come through the “difficult times”.

Critics immediately accused the Government of having its priorities wrong and of neglecting families and pensioners struggling to pay the bills.

Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said: “Rather than thinking about spending billions of pounds bailing out the bad debts of the banks, an increase in the basic pension to pay for these things would seem a rather higher priority.” Shadow Business Secretary Alan Duncan said: “Price rises for the real essentials are very tough. The Government should really stop to work out how a pensioner in particular can pay their bills.

“The cost of living has shot up and the Government has set nothing aside for a rainy day to address the problem.”

The biggest rises came on bread and butter. An 800g loaf of sliced white bread now costs £1.27 on average, compared with 87p last August – 46 per cent more. A 250g pack of butter has soared to £1.06 from 75p – an increase of 41 per cent.

Tim Newhouse of said: “It is of greatest concern when the essentials are spiralling in cost the quickest.”

Inflation is at a 16-year high, with the Consumer Prices Index measure at 4.7 per cent fuelled by the biggest rise in food prices in almost 20 years.

But yesterday Mr Darling told Labour’s annual party conference that things would improve in the coming months.

“Britain is strong,” he said. “Our economy is sound. Times are hard but we must keep things in perspective.”

Philip Hammond, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “On the day when Alistair Darling was telling us that there is nothing to worry about on inflation, these new official figures show just how bad things really are for Britain’s families.”

And Mark Wallace of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Alistair Darling says he sympathises with people caught in the grip of the credit crunch – but you can’t feed a family with the Chancellor’s sympathy.”

Mervyn Kohler of Help the Aged said pensions are failing to keep up with the cost of living.

He said: “Older people who have no resources other than what the state is providing for them are going to be really cash-strapped as a result of these increases in essentials.”

Big gas and electricity price hikes from all the major energy firms will put extra pressure on household budgets.

A surge in petrol prices since January combined with higher mortgage interest rates are adding to the huge rise in basic household spending.

Oil prices soared by the biggest margin in a single day yesterday. US crude for October delivery jumped by $25.45, or 28 per cent, to $130 before falling back to trade at $120.92, up $16.37.

Tuesday September 23,2008
By Louise Barnett, Consumer Editor

Source: Daily Express

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