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Which prices are rising fastest? The goods and services getting more expensive as UK inflation hits 5.4%

As inflation hits a near 30-year high, we reveal which goods and services are costing Brits the most right now – from food and energy bills, to hotel stays and petrol.

The cost of living rose by the fastest rate for almost 30 years last month, new figures from the Office for National Statistics show, with people in the UK feeling the pinch on everything from energy bills to second hand cars.

UK inflation rose by 5.4% in the year to December, according to the ONS’s latest Consumer Prices Index data, the highest monthly change since March 1992.

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned “we’ve not seen the end of rising inflation yet”, adding it expects households to face a cost of living crisis for much of this year.

But which items have seen the biggest price rises over the last year?

Our interactive chart below reveals which goods and services consumers were shelling out the highest premiums for in December.

What is the Consumer Prices Index?

Inflation is the measure of how the price of goods and services changes over time.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) weighs changes in the average price of a ‘basket’ of goods and services, to track the cost of living in the UK.

The goods and services cover a wide range, from food, drinks and petrol through to medicines, energy, and haircuts.

Inflation is normally measured on an annual basis, with the prices each month compared to what they were in the same month a year earlier.

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The goods and services do not all exert the same pull on the overall level of inflation. They are weighted, based on their relative importance and how big a portion they form of our overall spending.

For instance, in the category of food, the price of breakfast cereals is given twice the weighting of ice creams and lollies. Price increases for breakfast cereals will therefore influence overall inflation more strongly than rises for ice cream.

You can search for and compare the rate of inflation for different goods and services in our interactive chart above, to see which have seen the biggest price rises.

A list of definitions for each category and examples of what they cover can be found in the table at the bottom of this page

What goods and services have seen the biggest inflation?

Energy bills were a big driving force behind December’s CPI inflation rate, with prices of electricity, gas and other fuels up by 22.7% compared to last year.

Accommodation services – that is hotels, camping sites and all other accommodation establishments – came next, with prices up by 15.5%.

In December 2020 accommodation services in much of the UK emerged from mandatory closure during the November lockdown. Any cheap deals to tempt travellers back would be reflected in the year-on-year price comparison.

The ONS told NationalWorld that the high inflation in this area is likely due to both lower prices last year and higher prices this year.

There was an unusually large dip in prices in December 2020 but also stronger than average growth throughout 2021.

Food meanwhile rose by 4.5% in the year to December.

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How has the CPI changed over time?

The CPI rate in December was at its highest for almost 30 years.

In March 1992, inflation was at 7.1%. Since then, the highest it had risen to was 5.2% in September 2008 and September 2011, before hitting 5.4% last month.

Inflation rose for 9 out of 12 months in 2021, with dips in February, July and September.

Annual inflation is always affected by what was going on the previous year, since it is a year-on-year comparison.

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In August 2021, inflation stood at 3.2%, which at that point was the highest level for almost a decade.

The increase then was attributed to the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which saw consumers enjoy heavy discounts on restaurant and cafe bills the previous August, as well as the temporary VAT cut.

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Average inflation across 2021 as a whole was actually lower than during 2017.

In 2021 prices were up by 2.6% year on year, compared to annual growth of 2.7% four years earlier.

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