Cost of living improved?

The cost of living in London has fallen to a 20-year low

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Inflation unchanged as cost of living remains high

Inflation remained unchanged at 2.3% in March as a jump in the cost of food and clothing was offset by falling flight and fuel prices.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation stood unchanged from February's reading and in line with expectations.

The cost of living remains above the Bank of England's 2% target, putting pressure on the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to hike interest rates beyond 0.25% this year.

One of the main reasons why inflation did not rise was the fact that air fares fell by 3.9% between February and March after jumping by 22.9% last year.

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1997 v 2017: can things only get better for the cost of living?

By Dan McLaughlin

Following Tony Blair's landslide victory in 1997, voters were promised (courtesy of D:Ream): things can only get better.

There was nothing more 90s than optimism, New Labour and cheesy pop music.

However, a Labour government has been and gone (missing for seven years, possibly more after the snap general election; a bright future has been replaced with gloomy predictions post-Brexit; and D:Ream's keyboardist Brian Cox has grown up and transformed into an astrophysicist.

Things didn't really get better with everyday items and necessities growing in expense since 1997. From energy bills to Big Macs, petrol to Freddos, The Money Shop has documented the rising cost of living over the past 20 years.

It's the question journalists try to stump politicians with: how much is a pint of milk? In 2013, Boris Johnson stumbled his way through his answer to Jeremy Paxman's query, before blurting out: "I don't know what a pint of milk costs - so what?" The Foreign Secretary may be forgiven for not knowing the answer as it continues to rise, increasing by 29 per cent from 35p to 45p in the last two decades.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron could not answer how much a loaf of bread costs, citing the reason that he makes it at home. He may be surprised to know that the cost of store bought bread has nearly doubled from 52p to £1.

With millennials being in short trousers when the Blairs entered 10 Downing Street, Generation Y has had to grow up at the harsh reality of the housing market compared to their childhood. According to Business Insider, UK millennials are less likely to buy a house compared to other young people around the world. Just 31 per cent of young people in the UK own a house, compared to 70 per cent in China.

The average house price has risen from £78,000 to £222,484, increasing 185 per cent since 1997. Young people also face a higher energy bill and a 116 per cent increase in council tax (from £688 to £1,484 in Band D).

The litmus test for inflation comes courtesy of confectionary, with Cadbury's Freddo used as a benchmark for rising costs. The chocolate bar has tripled in price, although Cadbury has shrunk the size of the frog by 20 per cent. The Telegraph reports that Freddo could cost just under 40p by 2030 - 20p more than it would cost if the price had risen in line with inflation.

The price to read the adventures of Dennis, Gnasher and the Bash Street Kids in the Beano has increased by a massive 495 per cent. A copy of the Beano has increased from 42p to £2.50.

The weekly comic book for children is still trying to adjust to the digital age. The attempts to move the characters online were "hardly worth it", according to the BBC, when the digital Beano only attracted 362 subscribers at its launch in 2015.

Physical copies attract a circulation of around 34,000 readers. Although it is not quite the 1.9 million during its peak in 1950, sales increased by 3 per cent last year as its publisher, DC Thomson, saw its profits rise by 20 per cent.

And if the cost of living compared to two decades ago is getting you down, you can always drown your sorrows with a refreshing pint of beer. However, a trip to the pub has increased since 1997 with the price of beer doubling from £1.75 to £3.50.

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