Cost of living - latest: 'Worrying sign' in inflation data - as minister says when it will return to 2%; savers encouraged to switch as rates 'volatile' (2023)

Key points
  • Inflation fell to 6.8% in July after energy price cap reduction
  • UK 'on course' to hit 2% inflation target by 2025, says minister
  • Things 'moving in right direction' - but there's a 'worrying sign' in data | Gurpreet Narwan
  • Savers encouraged to switch as rates 'volatile'
  • How much have the things you buy increased in price during whole cost of living crisis? | Spending calculator
  • Live reporting by Brad Young and (earlier) Katie Williams



That's all for today's cost of living blog. If you've only just caught the end of it, here are the key moments from the day:

  • Inflation dropped from 7.9% to 6.8% in July, according to the Office for National Statistics;
  • But core inflation - the rate of price rises excluding food and fuel - remained unchanged at 6.9%, raising doubts Rishi Sunak could meet his 5.3% target by the end of the year;
  • Pay rose 7.8% compared with a year earlier, in the three months to June;
  • With this in mind, the Bank of England is widely predicted to increase rates to 5.5% at its next meeting in September, meaning falling inflation won't end the mortgage crisis anytime soon;
  • It was bad news for renters too, who have seen prices rise by5.3%in the 12 months to July - the highest annual growth rate since records for the UK began in 2016.


Aldi plans to open one UK store a week until Christmas

The supermarket giant wants to hire more than 1,700 workers in its warehouses to service the stores.

The recruitment drive includes full-time and part-time positions with salaries of up to £53,000 a year, the company said.

The nationwide expansion will see one store open per week on average until the end of the year.

Kelly Stokes, recruitment director at Aldi UK, said it was an "exciting time for the business".

She said: "As we continue to grow and attract new shoppers, we need even more amazing colleagues at our distribution sites to make everything possible."


Sunak's 'odd' promise to halve inflation in 'jeopardy'

Wage growth and stationary core inflation - a measure that excludes fuel and food - have prompted experts to cast doubt on whether the prime minister will hit his 5.3% target.

Pay rose 7.8% in the three months to June compared with a year earlier, while core inflation stood stubbornly at 6.9%, putting his promise "in jeopardy", according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

"The prime minister's target to halve the rate of inflation by the end of the year was always a little odd as there is only so much the Treasury can do to influence the pace of price increases," Heidi Karjalainen, a research economist at the IFS, said.

She said Mr Sunak "may have hoped he could rely on falling energy prices to do most of the work" but with four months to go "it no longer seems at all clear that inflation at the end of the year will have fallen by enough".

In theory, rising wages could stimulate demand and increase costs, adding to inflationary pressure.

"Accelerating pay growth will make even the prime minister's promise to halve inflation hard to meet, let alone the Bank's mandate of reducing it to 2%," James Smith, the Resolution Foundation's research director, said.

He said the UK has the highest rate in the G7 and the Bank faces a "daunting task in further taming price pressures".


Seven in 10 Britons think it's harder to retire now than ever before - survey

More than 70% of Britons believe it's harder to retire comfortably in the UK now than ever before, according to a survey.

A survey of 2,000 users of the investment comparison site Investing Reviews reveals not everyone is positive about their post-work future.

Some 71% of respondents agreed that it's harder to retire comfortably now, while 63% said their pension is not enough to enjoy retirement as they'd want to.

Just over half (55%) said they're unable to make as many pension contributions as they'd like to.

Meanwhile, 69% of Brits think the UK retirement age, which stands at 66, should be lowered.

Investing reviews chief executive Simon Jones said the survey responses "offer a fascinating insight".

"It will be interesting to see if factors such as the backlash in France to the rise in the retirement age and the increasing difficulty of the cost of living crisis have any effect on these sentiments in the future," he said.


Romance scams up by 39% - and fraudsters are getting more creative

By Megan Harwood-Baynes, cost of living specialist

There has been an alarming 39% rise in romance scams in the past three months, a digital safety and privacy expert has found.

These scams involve fraudsters deceiving individuals into romantic relationships. Scammers adopt an online persona - sometimes that of a celebrity - with the goal of stealing money, or personal information.

And the ways they trick people are getting more creative.

Avast - a member of the Coalition Against Stalkerware, No More Ransom and Internet Watch Foundation - found attackers are using deceptive emails, push notifications and misleading adverts to lure in their victims.

Once targeted, victims are redirected to seemingly legitimate dating sites populated with fake bot profiles.

When people attempted to engage in conversation with these profiles, they were coerced into paying for a subscription, falling prey to the scam.

Data for the quarter, April to June this year, also showed a significant increase in overall cyber risks, with an increase of 24% in unique attacks blocked over the previous period, the highest risk seen in three years.


Admiral shares rise after profit jump - but more price rises may come

More price rises could be on the way for Admiral customers as the insurer tries to mitigate the impact of high inflation.

The company reported a marginal 4% rise in profits today, with shares in the firm spiking this morning as analysts and investors bet on further price hikes.

Admiral said it had navigated soaring inflation through bumping up premiums - a move that piled further pressure on drivers during the cost of living crisis.

But chief executive Milena Mondini de Focatiis said:"Costs are now somewhat stabilising and we expect we canreturn to growth soon as the market catches up with priceincreases."

Matt Britzman, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said Admiral should be able to carry on outperforming rival companies "with selective underwriting and strong pricing power".


NatWest 'worst' bank for paying back fraud victims - report

NatWest made the wrong decision on more than half the fraud compensation claims it rejected over a year, according to a report.

Of 2,210 complaints escalated to the Financial Ombudsman Service in the year to March, 1,193 went in the customer's favour after a review, the Telegraph reported.

The newspaper said NatWest rejected over 5,000 claims in the past three years, around 3,300 of which were later overturned.

They included victims of push payment scams, as well as chip and pin fraud and identity theft.

Santander ranked second for bad calls, with figures showing it wrongly rejected 53.6% of claims, while HSBC was third with 53%.

Consumer campaigner James Daley, of Fairer Finance, told the Telegraph banks were were "dragging their heels" on fraud compensation repayments.


Sushi overtakes smoked salmon sandwich as favourite premium lunch at Tesco

A rise in sushi sales at Tesco means it has overtaken the smoked salmon sandwich as the favourite premium lunchtime meal among customers.

The supermarket giant said sales of sushi have rocketed by 90% since it was included in its premium £5 Clubcard meal deal at the start of the year.

The deal offers shoppers sushi boxes, poke bowls and other Asian foods such as gyozas and bao buns instead of a classic sandwich or wrap.

Tesco said it now sells 21 million packs of sushi a year as a result.

The company's food-to-go buying manager Emma Williams said the move made has made sushi "more affordable and accessible for shoppers".


The products increasing in price five times faster than inflation

By Megan Harwood-Baynes, cost of living specialist

Home appliances, garden furniture and gaming items had some of the biggest price increases in the last year, new figures have shown.

Data from Klarna - which has been tracking the average price of 3.4 million consumer goods - found products increased on average 12.4% in the 12 months to last month.

But some of the biggest increases were five times that average.

Home appliances increased by 63%, while garden and patio products shot up 54%. Gaming and entertainment items went up in price by 51%.

However, there was some good news from the buy-now-pay-later firm, who found that kids and family products are 19% cheaper than a year ago, while the cost of photography equipment has fallen by 12% and health and beauty products are 5% cheaper.


Savers encouraged to switch as rates 'volatile'

Savers are being urged to keep on top of the changing market and switch to avoid getting a "raw deal".

New figures from financial information service Moneyfacts reveals interest rates are volatile, and customers could be securing a higher rate elsewhere.

Rachel Springall, Moneyfacts finance expert, says inflation has been "eroding" savers' cash but they can mitigate the impact by securing a better deal with another provider.

Anyone wanting to make the most of their cash will find one-year fixed rate bonds are offering the best rates, she said.

Here's the group's latest analysis of rates on offer for standard savings accounts:

Meanwhile, there's also been an improvement on returns offered on ISAs, Ms Springall said.

"Savers who are still able to use their ISA allowance may wish to compare the latest offers," she added.

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