When Labour launched their cost of living campaign fuel and energy prices were higher than today. A price freeze on energy was one of their main demands. They also wanted to see an end to prices rising faster than wages, something which happened on a grand scale in their last two years in office.
This week’s figures show inflation down to 1% and likely to fall further. Private sector pay has been going up by 2%. Fuel prices are down by 5.9% so far, with clear signs that the lower oil price will now lead to lower prices at the pumps for petrol and diesel. Retail sales were up 6.4% in volume terms in November for the last year, an impressive rate of growth.
The employment figures were also good. Unemployment is now down by 552,000 since May 2010. The economy has created 1.75m new jobs over that time period. Labour predicted rising unemployment and widespread job losses, something they had created in 2007-9.
Of course what we need are yet more jobs to cut unemployment further. We need more better paid jobs, for people to gain promotion and have a sense of progression in their work lives. We need many more months of pay outstripping prices. It is however welcome news that the UK has a relatively high rate of growth, that this is creating many more employment opportunities, and that the real value of average pay is on the rise.
Just as Labour’s forecast of another recession was wide of the mark, just as their forecasts of rising unemployment were wrong, it looks as if their cost of living crisis to be remedied by an energy price freeze is also being overtaken by the real world. It is much better that oil, gas and motor fuel are falling in price so consumers have more money left over for other items.