Latest Cost of Living: Cheapest Supermarket Revealed; The striking train drivers "have been around for a long time," warns the union leader (2023)

key points
  • Rail workers strike for day two - check which services were affected
  • Striking train drivers "are in for the long haul," warns the union leader
  • The collective bargaining dispute at Deutsche Bahn is turning around after months of failed negotiations
  • He fears petrol will soon hit 155p again
  • Cheapest supermarket revealed
  • Special Report by Jason Farrell:"I've Spent All My Savings And Now I Can't Retire"
  • Live report fromscharf jess


The cost of living crisis is helping to stall the market 'recovery'

One of the main impacts of the COVID pandemic on the real estate market has been demand for housing, which has fallen sharply as people who can work from home try to flee big cities for larger houses farther afield.

But now there is some evidence that skyrocketing mortgage rates and rising house prices are sparking renewed interest in housing that has become comparatively cheaper.

Roarie Scarisbrick, partner at buying agency Property Vision, told The Times: "I think we're seeing the first signs of recovery now.

“Firstly, after apartments have seemed overpriced compared to houses in recent years, this is no longer the case. Also, I think cities, and therefore apartments, are making a comeback for the simple reason that so many people are realizing that cities are great places to live, and one reason is that they're so much cheaper than living in the country.

“Many of those who have moved to the country during the pandemic are not considering the cost of things like travel, gas and train tickets, oil to heat their home and so on. It's much more expensive to live in the country. "


New data suggests food price inflation may ease

As discussed in previous posts, significant increases in food prices were a major factor in the cost of living crisis.

However, there seem to be some signs that this situation may be improving.

The United Nations food price index fell 0.8% in January, the tenth straight monthly decline.

This means the index is down 17.9% from its peak in March 2022.

According to the UN, the fall in the index in January was due to falling prices for vegetable oils, dairy products and sugar, although grain and meat prices have remained practically stable.


Poorer families eat fewer vegetables to save money

The impact of the cost of living crisis has been far-reaching, as families across the UK have been forced to choose what to prioritize between their regular cost of living and what to sacrifice.

Research has shown that low-income families are increasingly forgoing vegetables to save money.

A YouGov survey commissioned by Veg Power found that 28% of households with a combined household income of £30,000 or less agreed that energy costs had led to reduced vegetable consumption around the holiday season.

About 20% said they cut down on vegetable purchases to save money, and 20% said they bought family treats instead of vegetables due to budget constraints.

Analysis of retail sales by IRI Worldwide supported the findings, showing that people's shopping baskets became less healthy over time.

In relation to 2018, the share in the quantity of vegetables was 7.6% lower than in 2018.

Sweets and snacks increased by 5.7% and alcohol content increased by 10%.


More underpaid employees are getting free travel on London's public transport

It has been announced that free rides will be extended to Transport for London's cleaning, catering and security staff.

The move was welcomed by the Railway, Maritime and Transport Workers' Union (RMT), which said it was in "strong opposition" to government plans to force unions to provide minimum services during strikes.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said around 5,800 of the lowest paid transport workers would get free rides on TfLnetwork.

And RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: "This is another step in the right direction for the Mayor of London and we are asking him to extend it to all TfL contract workers.

“Sadiq Khan's welcome action stands in stark contrast to the Conservatives, who pushed through legislation in the House of Commons earlier this week that would strip these workers of the right to strike.

"Rather than attacking the cleaners, the Tories should follow the mayor's lead and ensure all railroad cleaners travel freely.

“But the mayor also has to do more. The national Labor Party has vowed to oversee the biggest public service outsourcing wave in a generation if elected.

"London's Mayor is already in power so let's ramp up our campaign for Sadiq to tackle the scourge of outsourcing at TfL, starting with the addition of London Underground cleaners."


Look: Have previous scams been successful?

The government wants to limit the strike as a wave of work stoppages continues in almost all sectors.

Earlier this week, the UK saw its biggest strike in over a decade, involving around 500,000 workers.

So how successful were the previous strikes?

We examine the answer to this question in the following video...


Cheapest supermarket revealed

The cheapest and most expensive supermarkets have been revealed.

According to consumer website Which? Aldi was the cheapest in January, while the equivalent basket cost £26 more at the most expensive Waitrose.

A check for 45 popular grocery items each day in January yielded the following totals:

1. Aldi - 82,03 €

2. Lidl - 84,07€

3. Tesco - £ 94,80

4. Asda - 95,32 €

5. Sainsbury's - 95,65 £

6. Morrisons - £ 96,58

7. Okado - 100,87€

8. Waitrose - 107,71 €

As many of us know, while Aldi and Lidl are invariably cheaper for many own-brand items and certain branded products, they don't always have the variety available in other major department stores.

With this in mind, a separate analysis of 144 items in January resulted in the following list, which excludes the two discount supermarkets.

1. Asda - 363,29 €

2. Sainsbury's - £ 375,84

3. Tesco - £ 376,72

4. Morrisons – £ 379,13

5. Okado – £392,43

6. Waitrose - £ 408,72

This comes after December food and drink inflation across the eight supermarkets totaled 15% compared to the same month last year.


Borough of London Parks Officers begin month-long strike

Parking attendants in a London area have announced a month-long wage strike.

From February 6 to March 5, Hounslow officers refused to work.

Hounslow City Council is in lockdown after Ealing and Brent councils increased wages for their workers following a strike last year.

The workers are hired directly by Serco, which manages contracts for the London Borough.

According to the Unite syndicate, the outside giant's most recent profit was £303.9 million.

Sharon Graham, Unite General Secretary, said: “The refusal of the boards of Serco and Hounslow to address the scourge of low wages is shameful.

“The truth is that London's living wage is not enough to live on. Serco is extremely wealthy. The board and its contractor have the option to pay the workers more.”

“The strike will inevitably mean that parking restrictions will be lifted throughout the neighborhood. Employers need to recognize that workers have the full support of Unite.”


Why is your car insurance increasing?

The average price of auto insurance rose 8% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to an industry association.

The Association of British Insurers said its survey of businesses is the only one looking at the price consumers actually pay for their insurance cover, rather than the price they are offered.

It found the average premium paid for private cars was £470, up 8% quarter-on-quarter and up 7% compared to the same period in 2021.

Insurers themselves blamed rising costs for the increases, citing the following factors:

  • Power inflation adds £71.75 to each repair
  • Average ink and media costs increased nearly 16%
  • Average repair cost increased by 20%
  • An estimated 40% of all jobs are affected in some way by part delays
  • Replacement car costs for workshops increase by around 30%


The service sector has had its weakest start to the year since 2021

Business activity in the service sector was weaker in the beginning of 2023 than in the last two years.

The S&P Global/CIPS UK Services PMI survey showed a reading of 48.7 in January versus 49.9 in December.

Any reading below 50 is considered a drop.

The January numbers marked the fourth straight monthly decline.

Tight household budgets affecting consumer spending and cautious budget cuts at corporate customers were cited as the main reasons for the decline in activity.

Tim Moore, economic director at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said: “January data signaled the services sector's weakest performance in two years, as cuts in business and consumer spending led to monthly output reductions for the fourth consecutive month.

"The latest research shows the UK economy is at risk of recession as labor shortages, labor disputes and higher interest rates weigh on economic activity."


Striking train drivers are “long-term”

The striking drivers are "long-term," warned a union boss.

Drivers belonging to Aslef and the Ferroviário, Marítimo e Transporte (RMT) union left today in a long dispute over wages and working conditions.

This has left large parts of the country without services as operators such as Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Northern and Southern do not operate trains.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan told LBC radio the drivers had not received a pay rise in four years.

When asked how much longer union members can financially keep the strike going, he said: “I think we're in it for the long haul. How long does a piece of rope last?

"If we don't get a raise for four years, will it be five, will it be six, will it be seven?

"Is it silly to stop it now and restart it in the future because you would lose the momentum you've gained?"

He told LBC Aslef had made no progress in negotiations with the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail operators, during the six-month strike.

Asked about the possibility of an agreement in the forthcoming talks on February 7, he said: "We want a solution. My people don't want to lose money, they don't want to be left out."

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