Loading...

Inflation rates in Europe 2022: how April UK CPI compares to EU countries - including France and Germany

Boris Johnson’s government has repeatedly said the cost of living crisis is a ‘global issue’ - so how do inflation rates compare in other countries?

The UK cost of living crisis has broken yet another record, with inflation hitting a 40-year high in April 2022 according to Office for National Statistics data.

The ONS Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 2% between March and April, meaning the prices of daily items and services are now 9% above where they were last year.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

Boris Johnson’s government has repeatedly insisted the sky-high cost of living is the result of global inflationary pressure - a claim that’s been used by the Conservative Party to both defend its economic track record and its lack of public spending to ease the cost of living.

So how does the UK’s CPI compare to those in Europe?

The UK CPI rose 0.1% between December and January, meaning goods and services cost 5.5% more than they did a year ago (image: AFP/Getty Images)

NationalWorld has analysed the latest data from our closest neighbours to see if the UK’s inflation rate is on the par the government says it is.

What is the UK’s CPI rate?

The CPI is an internationally comparable method of tracking inflation for a typical basket of everyday goods and services.

The prices of everything from food, to clothing, to cars are included, with the basket weighted towards items that are most important to households.

UK inflation is sitting at near-30 year highs and household budgets aren’t keeping up (image: AFP/Getty Images)

For example, milk and bread has a greater bearing on the overall inflation rate than smartwatches.

Whilst being an important yardstick against which we can determine whether or not to alter our spending habits, the CPI is also used to set state pensions, benefits and statutory sick pay.

As of April 2022 (the most recent month for which we have data), the CPI rate in the UK was 9%.

Loading....

This means the overall basket of goods cost 9% more than it did in April 2021.

To put that into perspective, the CPI inflation rate in April 2021 compared to March 2020 was just 1.5%.

How does the UK compare to Europe?

Loading....

When NationalWorld first compared the UK’s inflation rate to those in Europe in January 2022, we found it had seen one of the largest proportional year-on-year increases - with only Spain, Belgium and Ireland experiencing bigger leaps.

But while the picture had changed by March 2022, with the UK less of an outlier than before, the huge jump seen in April’s CPI means the UK is now second only to the Netherlands.

The UK’s CPI has rocketed in large part due to the 54% increase in the Ofgem energy price cap in April.

Boris Johnson has said his government is still considering cost of living support measures (image: Getty Images)

Energy bills had been fuelling the Eurozone’s CPI rises, but have either gone down or decelerated month-on-month - suggesting Europe’s cost of living crisis may be peaking for the timebeing.

It mostly explains why the inflation rates of Spain (-1.5%) and the Netherlands (-0.1%) have gone down compared to March 2022 - although energy in the Netherlands is still 136% more expensive than it was a year ago.

You can see how much of an outlier the UK has become by comparing its current inflation rate with the level it was at a year ago (see below).

Only the Netherlands has seen prices go up at a pace that matches the UK.

Loading....

An important caveat to note about fellow inflation high-flyer Belgium is that all wages in the country are tied to the CPI; so when inflation goes up, consumers lose no purchasing power.

Here in the UK, wages have not been rising in step with inflation meaning many people are becoming worse off.

While the UK is now above most major European economies, inflation remains at record highs across the board.

The war in Ukraine continues to fuel inflation (image: AFP/Getty Images)

The major themes behind these figures are broadly similar to those in the UK.

Covid-19 is reportedly still hitting supply chains across Europe.

Energy and motor fuel are issues that are equally - if not more - acute on continental Europe given most countries’ reliance on Russian oil and gas.

Food and drink prices are also a major pressure on CPI figures across the board.

In the UK, they were 6.7% higher than a year previously as of April, while in the Netherlands they were 8.5% higher, 8.6% up in Germany and 10.1% more expensive in Spain.

All of these increases were as a direct result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has particularly hit cooking oil - a key base of many foods - and supplies of grain.

Is the UK in a better or worse position than Europe?

The problems the UK currently faces are similar to those being seen across EU states and Europe more broadly.

However, the deceleration or reduction in inflation some countries have enjoyed, as well as interventions by some EU governments - like the 21% fuel duty cut in the Netherlands and €25 billion cost of living support package in France - show the UK government is not the hostage to fortune it claims to be.

So, while the cost of living crisis is indeed an international issue, the UK government could do more to shield consumers from inflation.

The caveat to note is that the EU could still endure a big inflation spike if Russia cuts off its energy supplies.

But with each passing week, the likely severity of this spike lessens as the EU is gradually weening itself off Russian oil and gas.

And any spike the bloc suffers would also be felt in the UK, given its exposure to global prices.

So, you could argue the EU is currently in a better position with its cost of living crisis than the UK.