On Wednesday, whilst the chancellor was providing his statement on the 2020 spending review, the UK Statistical Authority released the response to the consultation on their proposals to replace the Retail Price Index with the CPIH. Unsurprisingly, they have ignored all contrary opinions and intend to proceed with their plans. Although the change will not be implemented until 2030, at which time the treasury loses its legislative veto.
This decision has already caused considerable dismay with the Royal Statistical Society, expressing their strong disagreement in forthright terms, emphasising that “‘The government’s plan to replace RPI with CPIH is a clear case of using the wrong tool for the job ……as the CPIH is to replace the RPI, then a full review should be conducted to look into what the possible consequences will be, and how to avoid the likely problems.” Similarly the specialist RPI / CPI group within the Statistical User Forum have expressed their concerns, including the striking analogy that “In a move reminiscent of failing car companies, the name ‘RPI’ will remain but the model underneath will just be a re-badged CPIH. Whatever the intention, the result will be that many will be deceived.”
At the campaign for better statistics we are also extremely disturbed by this decision. It represents a further significant failure of the UK Statistical Agency to properly serve the interests of all the people of the UK. This decision to formally replace the RPI with the CPIH exacerbates the institutional bias against accurate representation of the poorer members of our society. Many of whom are not represented properly in official statistics, yet they have votes and will continue to use them in unexpected ways. Whilst the very existence of many of these persons continues to be ignored by UKSA, their concerns will remain unknown to policymakers. We continue to press for an independent body to protect the interests of all stakeholders in our public statistics since it is evident that the UKSA has little intention to honour its commitment to Statistics for the Public Good.
The Campaign is preparing a more detailed critique of the Response to the recent Consultation which should be available in a week or so.
Details of the relevant documents can be found on the following links:
UKSA’s response to the consultation published 25th November 2020: https://uksa.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/news/response-to-the-joint-consultation-on-reforming-the-methodology-of-the-retail-prices-index/
Royal Statistical Society response also published 25th November 2020: https://rss.org.uk/news-publication/news-publications/2020/general-news/chancellor-responds-to-rpi-consultation/
RPI / CPI group within Statistical User Forum response also published 25th November 2020: 20201125 RPI CPI User Group Media Note
Additional information concerning potential effect on pensions: https://www.pensionsage.com/pa/RPI-to-align-with-CPIH-in-2030-at-earliest.php
The campaign for better statistics original response to the Treasury / UKSA consultation exercise published August 2020: https://www.betterstats.net/rpi-versus-cpih-whats-your-opinion/