Inflation 2024 – Are we using the right measures?

Inflation 2024 – Are we using the right measures?

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23rd May 2024

Lady Violet Room

National Liberal Club

1 Whitehall Place

London SW1A 2HE

About the Seminar

“Confused about the rate of inflation?  You have every right to be…”  was the title of an article by Andrew Sentance in the Times of 23rd January 2023, pointing out “no one is using or referring” to CPIH, the official measure of inflation provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Now, more than a year later, public awareness of CPIH remains at less than half that of the RPI, with claimed familiarity even lower. In addition, recent developments have again called into question the methods employed to calculate CPIH.   The lack of awareness of this measure is particularly unfortunate because almost every member of our adult population has some lived experience of the effects of inflation, it is therefore vital that the public should have confidence in how it is recorded.

Moreover, whatever the expert may say, the public is mainly inclined to consider that the change in purchasing power of money is relatively simple to track from one period to another, although it is widely appreciated that different people will have different experiences of inflation.  A fact that had led to the development of the Household Cost Indices (HCIs), as originally proposed by Jill Leyland and John Astin in 2015[1].  These are now produced by the ONS on a quarterly basis and the ONS also introduced a Household Cost Calculator in March 2023, for individuals to check the inflation rate of households similar to their own[2].

Although it may be simple to understand the principles underlying the calculation of the inflation rate, there are a wide range of uses and it is notable that the government uses different measures for different purposes, for example RPI has until recently formed the basis for calculating increases in rail fares whereas CPI is used for the old age pension.

This seminar is therefore expected to explore issues such as:

  • Has the decision to remove the status of a National Statistic from the RPI contributed to the increase in households unable to make ends meet?
  • If people change behaviour due to inflation should this change the index?
  • Is it better to have a readily understood index than a truly accurate one?
  • is it possible to have one index when there are many different purposes?
  • What next for the Household Cost Indices – should one of the HCI measures replace the RPI instead of CPIH as the replacement?

Additionally we will be exploring how the measurement of inflation is best governed; specifically are the two separate advisory committees ‘stakeholder’ and ‘technical’ the right way to serve the public good?  Don’t miss this event!

PROGRAMME

Inflation 2024 – Are we using the right measures?

Time Items Speakers
2.10 pm Welcome:  Introduction Jill Leyland,  Coauthor of “Towards a Household Inflation Index
Keynote:  Current regulatory Issues in price statistics

 

Ed Humpherson,  Director General, Office for Statistics Regulation.
Discussion
2.35 pm Topic 1:  What are we measuring ?

 

Intro: Jill Leyland:
The ONS consumer price statistics and their use cases: CPIH, CPI and HCI.

 

Stephen Burgess, Deputy Director Prices, Office for National Statistics.

 

KISS – Keep it simple (and short)

 

Morgan Wild, Head of Policy, Citizens Advice

 

The Household Cost Index and income growth

 

Professor Martin Weale (Professor of Economics at King’s Business School).
Discussion
3.15 pm Topic 2: Are there alternatives?

 

Intro: Tony Cox (Chair Inflation Statistics User Group)

 

Introducing the Decent Living Index

(DLI)

 

Juliet Stone, Research Fellow
Centre for Research in Social Policy Loughborough University
Are the HCI’s a better replacement

for the RPI than  CPIH?

 

Shaun Richards, Economist and Journalist

notayesmanseconomics.wordpress.com

 

Discussion
3.45 pm Tea Break
4.00 pm Topic 3: Is the governance right? Intro: Tony Dent, Director Better Statistics CIC
The view from the shop Floor Geoff Tily, Chief Economist, Trades Union Congress
Is there a better alternative? Simon Briscoe, Member Better Statistics Advisory Committee and author Britain in Numbers
Discussion
4.35 pm Open Forum:  Discussion on measurement and governance -to be chaired by Tony Dent

With contributions from:

Grant Fitzner, Chief Economist and Director, Macroeconomic and Environment Statistics and Analysis, Office for National Statistics

Vicky Pryce, Member Better Statistics Advisory Committee and Former Joint Head Government Economic Service.

Paul Allin, Honorary Fellow for National Statistics, Royal Statistics Society

 

5.10 pm Meeting Closes

Other Details:

Doors open at 1.30 pm for Networking

The meeting will be a hybrid (in-person / video link) event.

Please go to Booking to reserve your place.  The delegate fee for in-person attendance is £60 plus VAT (£72), video attendance is free.  Check with a member of the programme committee to see if you are eligible for a discount code for personal attendance.

For background information on the seminar please visit Correspondence with OSR

For a history of the development of the inflation measures over recent years please see timetable

Other background to the seminar can be seen at www.betterstats.net/inflation-issues

Links to the previous Inflation Seminars are:

Conference Committee

  • Paul Allin – Honorary Fellow for National Statistics, Royal Statistics Society
  • Tony Cox – Chairman Inflation Statistics User Group
  • Jill Leyland – represents the Royal Statistical Society on the National Statistician’s “Advisory Panel on Consumer Prices – Stakeholder
  • Phyllis Macfarlane – Director Better Statistics CIC
  • Iain MacKay – Director Better Statistics CIC
  • Vicky Pryce – Chief Economics’ Advisor, CEBR and member Better Statistics Advisory Committee
  • Tony Dent – Director Better Statistics CIC

 

If you’d like to support the work of Better Statistics CIC please go to Donate or contact [email protected]

Inflation 24 – The Speakers

Jill Leyland  – Jill represents the Royal Statistical Society on the National Statistician’s “Stakeholder Advisory Panel on Consumer Prices” and with John Astin she wrote the 2015 paper “Towards a Household Inflation Index”.  She has been an Expert Witness on inflation measurement, was a Vice President of the Royal Statistical Society from 2009 to 2012 and awarded the Society’s West medal for services to official statistics in 2018. In the past she worked for the World Gold Council, the OECD, the Economist Intelligence Unit and the UK Government Statistical Service, among other organisations.

Ed Humpherson – Ed is head of the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) with the responsibility to ensure that National Statistics and data serve the public good.  Ed is also Vice Chair of The Motability Foundation, and trustee of Pro Bono Economics. He is on the advisory board of the Regulatory Policy Institute, the delivery board of Admin Data Research UK, and the advisory board of the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence.  Prior to joining the Authority, Ed was a Board Member and Executive Leader for Economic Affairs at the National Audit Office, a post he held since July 2009. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh and is a Chartered Accountant and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Stephen Burgess – Stephen is Deputy Director of Price Statistics at the ONS. He previously worked at the Bank of England advising the Monetary Policy Committee and the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) where he led a programme analysing the resilience of UK households in the light of rises in interest rates and living costs, and oversaw the calibration of the FPC’s mortgage market policies. In previous roles he led the Bank’s modelling of the potential c9onsequences of a “no deal” Brexit and co-led the Bank’s work to stress test the major UK banks response to the Covid pandemic.

Morgan Wild – Morgan is Head of Policy at Citizens Advice, where he works with advisers and researchers every day to understand the underlying causes and (hopefully) help fix them.  Before joining Citizens Advice, he worked as a social research consultant at the Office for Public Management on a range of public and private sector projects. He holds an MA in Political Economy from King’s College London and a BA in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge.

Martin WealeMartin is Professor of Economics at King’s College, London and chair of the National Statistician’s Committee for Advice on Standards for Economic Statistics. His interest in economic statistics began as an ODI Fellow at the National Statistics Office in Malawi following graduation in 1977. Subsequently lecturing  in Economics at Cambridge University he became Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in 1995 and was appointed a CBE in 1999 following work on earnings statistics. He was an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee from 2010 to 2016.

Tony Cox -Tony has chaired the Inflation Statistics User Group (formerly the RPI CPI User Group) since it was established in 2012. The aims of the Group are to foster co-operation between the ONS, its advisory bodies and other users. Most of Tony’s career was spent with BT, a significant proportion of which was spent working in Japan. In addition, he has been public affairs director for the National Joint Utilities Group and was a committee member of the CBI Transport Committee. He is a Trustee of his local Citizens Advice office and an accredited Case Handler for Prospect.

Dr Juliet Stone – Juliet is Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CSRP) at Loughborough University focusing on quantitative analysis relating to low income and living standards. This includes research for Marie Curie to produce the first ever estimates of the numbers of people who die in poverty and working with the Child Poverty Coalition to produce annual estimates of child poverty rates at a local level.  Juliet plays a key role in the influential Minimum Income Standard (MIS) programme of research that was pioneered at CRSP, and takes the lead on producing and analysing MIS data for a wide range of outputs, including the annual Households Below MIS report.

Shaun Richards – Shaun is an independent economist and journalist, who analyses economic events and developments for Core Finance TV, Bloomberg Radio and various publications including the Business live section of the Guardian, City-AM and the Daily Express. A graduate of the LSE, Shaun has also worked in Tokyo and he maintains a watchful eye on inflation rates and the policies of the Bank of England, including the long term effects of Quantitative Easing (QE).

Geoff Tily – Geoff has been senior economist at the TUC since 2014. Before that he was 25 years in the government statistical and economic services, mainly at the Office for National Statistics but also at HM Treasury. His parallel academic activities include a book (2006) Keynes’s General Theory, the Rate of Interest and ‘Keynesian Economics’: Keynes Betrayed and ongoing contributions to the macro policy debate.

Simon Briscoe – Simon is a member of the Better Statistics Advisory Committee and was until recently a founder director of t-tab, a data science start-up now successfully launched as OctaiPipe Ltd.  Simon’s career includes working in the civil service, investment banking and at the FT. Among various contributions to our public life he was an adviser to parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) and is a past trustee of FullFact.

Grant Fitzner – Grant is Chief Economist and Director of Macro-economic Statistics and Analysis at the Office for National Statistics, where he oversees the production and analysis of ONS economic statistics, including prices, productivity, public sector finance, trade and balance of payments. Grant has previously led economic and analytical teams at the NHS, DLUHC and BEIS, and held senior roles in investment banking, commercial property, market research, and the Australian federal government.

Paul Allin – Paul is a visiting professor in the department of mathematics at Imperial College London. His research centres on the use of measures of national wellbeing and progress. He is also the Royal Statistical Society’s honorary officer for National Statistics. Paul spent forty years as a professional statistician, researcher and policy analyst in government departments and agencies, latterly as director of the ONS measuring national wellbeing programme.

Vicky Pryce – Vicky is a member of the Better Statistics Advisory Committee and Chief Economic Adviser and board member at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). Vicky has held senior positions in business and the Civil service including as partner and chief economist at KPMG and joint head of the UK government economic service. She is author of several books including the celebrated Greekonomics

Tony-Dent-headshot

Tony Dent – Tony is a Director of Better Statistics CIC, Chairman of CMR Group and Director of Sample Answers Ltd;  He is a statistician with over 40 years of International Market Research experience and has acted as a consultant to a number of companies, including the Civil Aviation Authority, DHL, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Radio Free Europe, and the Xerox Corporation. Tony holds a BSc and MSc in Mathematics and Statistics from Reading and Southampton.

Phyllis Macfarlane – Phyllis is a Director of Better Statistics CIC, an Executive of the Archive of Market and Social Research and past Chairman of the Market Research Society; she is also trustee of the   She has worked in market research throughout her career, managing GfK’s UK company from 2000-2009, then spending several years working on GfK Verein’s University Cooperation Programme, setting up post-graduate courses and degrees in Africa.

Iain Mackay – Iain holds a MA in Computer Science from Cambridge and has championed innovation in software technology for market(ing) research since the 1980s. Currently working as a developer for the NHS and involved as a principal with X-MR Limited, Iain had over twenty years exposure to technology infrastructure in support of market research and business sector quantitative and qualitative endeavours with organisations such as Neilsen Audio and Pulse Train Technology.

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