THE UK’s statistics office is exploring new measurements of the effect of rising prices on struggling Britons, as the government comes under pressure to alter the way it calculates millions of pensions and benefit payments.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says it is investigating the cost of living for new demographics, yet insists its work is not influenced by the impending political furore.
“We are looking into different ways of measuring inflation for various people,” a spokesperson told City A.M. “But we do not answer to any [government] department.”
The coalition government has moved to peg many benefits and pension payments to the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI is on average lower than the retail price index (RPI), which was previously used. Trades unions are calling on the government to use different measures of living costs for inflation-linked payments.
The Trades Union Congress has argued that the CPI does not accurately reflect increases in prices faced by pensioners or benefit-recipients.
The ONS already produces an index for pensioners, ex-Treasury statistician Simon Briscoe told City A.M., yet the index is not used in the government’s welfare calculations.