ISLANDERS are facing the biggest rise in the cost of living for three decades, according to new figures.
Statistics Jersey’s latest Retail Prices Index report, which measures the change in the price of goods and services purchased by an average household, marked the annual rate of inflation at 7.9% – the largest 12-month jump since September 1991 – and an increase of 1.9% from the previous quarter.
The rise was fuelled by huge jumps in housing, energy and motoring costs, with prices in each sector increasing by 10.2%, 23.4% and 14.8% respectively.
Treasury Minister Ian Gorst said: ‘The latest inflation figures, while not surprising, follow a similar pattern to the rise in inflation across many developed economies although when compared to the UK, Jersey’s remains at a lower level – 7.9% compared to 8.2% for the UK.
‘The main factors driving the increase are sustained price rises, particularly in energy, housing and essential items such as food.’
He added: ‘Ministers are currently developing an exceptional budget which is designed to support Islanders with the squeeze they are feeling on family budgets.’
Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel said that while ‘not surprising’, the rise was ‘concerning’.
He added: ‘The exceptional budget referred to by the [Treasury] Minister is being developed with a sole focus on helping Islanders with the cost of living, and I believe it will make a genuine difference.
‘The most direct way the government can help is by ensuring that Islanders have money in their pockets.’
He also said that engagement with organisations such as the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority and the Consumer Council might help identify where markets could ‘operate more efficiently’, and that other solutions, such as improved trade links with France, were being explored.
Consumer Council chair Carl Walker – who wrote to former Chief Minister John Le Fondré in March asking him to consider actions such as a reduction in fuel duty and a winter fuel credit of £100 per household – said the latest figures confirmed what the organisation had ‘feared’ when it warned the previous government to act.
‘We are now in that situation, without any help, and all the pointers are suggesting worse is to come this autumn and winter,’ he added.
Statistics Jersey’s report also found that the inflation rate for pensioners and low-income households had increased by 7.7% and 6.5% respectively.
Mr Walker said: ‘While it’s true that the RPI hits all households of all incomes, those on smaller incomes spend proportionately more of their wages each week on food than those [who are] better off. With food and fuel prices being at the very core of these huge inflation rates, the less-well-off will be impacted the most. There is no doubt about that.
‘That includes an awful lot of pensioners too, many of whom are too proud to ask for help, which really isn’t on.