ONS signs £15m partner for consumer price index

Written by Sam Trendall on 14 September 2022 in News
News

Data analytics firm will help statisticians select products for ‘basket’ of goods

Credit: Jürgen Jester/Pixabay

The Office for National Statistics has selected a long-term commercial partner to support its work on the consumer price index.

The CPI – and the CPIH which factors in additional housing-related costs and council tax – are seen as a key measure of inflation. The CPI ‘basket’ contains a periodically updated range of common goods and services, the prices of which are then tracked. Alongside the consumer price indices is the retail price index: an older statistical exercise that remains as a complement to the CPI, but is no longer the primary means of calculating the impact of inflation on households.

From 1 February next year, Kantar will serve as the ONS’s primary provider of data for the CPI, CPIH and RPI. The data analytics and brand consultancy firm has signed a seven-year contract with the national statistics body, worth a £15.6m

Over the course of the engagement, the company’s duties will include helping statisticians select items to go in the basket, and then “sourcing of products and outlets: finding products that comply with the item specifications, and outlets in which to price those products”.

The firm will then gather a wide range of “representative price data and descriptions of the products being priced,” before performing “cleaning” and quality assurance of data and, finally, delivering data sets to the ONS.

According to a newly published procurement notice, the contract also covers a number of “associated services, including, but not limited to: market information on prices, retailers, goods and services; and the twice-yearly collection of price data – in London – for the Purchasing Power Parities surveys”.

Data published today revealed that consumer price inflation had fallen very slightly in the last two months: from 10.1% to 9.9%. However, it remains at its highest level for about 40 years, and ministers, the media and the general public will be keeping a close eye on CPI information over the coming months.
The updates made to the basket this year saw 19 new items – including meat-free sausages, sports bras, and pet collars – added to the list. Those that were removed included doughnuts, coal, and men’s suits.

Kantar has sealed the long-term contract to support the ONS having worked with the statistical agency on its collection of CPI data since the mid-1990s. In recent years, it has supported the growing use of so-called web-scraped data , via a process in which technology is used to automatically gather pricing information from retailers’ websites.

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on sam.trendall@dodsgroup.com.

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