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Credit card Christmas

CPI inflation hits six-year high; seasonal food and kids’ toys up by 6%; wages flatline

BRITS should brace for a “credit card Christmas,” trade unions warned yesterday after new figures showed seasonal food has risen in price by a whopping 5 per cent.

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed consumer prices index (CPI) inflation to be the highest in almost six years.

They also show that the price of butter has risen by a staggering 23.3 per cent since last year.

Families shopping for their Christmas Day roasts will find that vegetables are up by 5.1 per cent, lamb by 9.2 per cent and oils and fats up 7.4 per cent.

Sherry is up 5.5 per cent, while fish has increased by 9.3 per cent.

The figures also show a 6.1 per cent jump in the price of toys.

General union GMB said government policies had led to a sharp increase in prices while wages have flatlined.

“Christmas is something we all look forward to, but for a lot of families it will bring a huge financial pressure,” the union’s general secretary Tim Roache said.

"Too many people already have to rely on credit cards, loans and pay-day lenders to cover the costs of getting their kids presents and putting Christmas dinner on the table.

“The sad fact is, the government could do something about it but instead it is happy to give working people yet another lump of coal in their stockings.”

The rise in food prices put the CPI of inflation at 3.1 per cent in November, its highest rate in more than five years and much higher than the government’s 2 per cent target.

Shadow Treasury chief secretary Peter Dowd said: “We shouldn’t forget that there will be millions of working families who will be struggling this Christmas already as a direct result of government policies such as the benefits freeze and the public-sector pay cap.

“This is a further reminder of just how bad this double whammy of rising prices and Tory austerity policies will be this month for them.”

Protocol asserts that the Bank of England must write to Chancellor Philip Hammond explaining any inflation rise above 3 per cent or below 1 per cent.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said: “Inflation is expected to fall over the coming year, but I recognise families are feeling a squeeze now.”

But public-sector union Unison warned that the 1 per cent cap on pay rises for state employees was pushing families “to the brink.”

Its leader Dave Prentis said: “With inflation at its highest level in six years, many public service workers are facing a bleak Christmas.

“It’s time that all public service workers received a decent pay rise that at least matches the rate of inflation.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that the government has failed to tackle Britain’s cost of living crisis and this is exemplified by the fact that food prices have gone up at twice the rate of wages.

She added: “Working people need a pay rise. They shouldn’t have to worry about putting the turkey on the table.”

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