Inflation falls to 2.8%

Inflation's down, but rail fares are up, up, up.

According to the ONS, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), Britain's headline measure of inflation, grew by 2.8% in the year to July 2013, down from 2.9% in June.

The statistics agency adds that:

The largest contributions to the fall in the rate came from air fares, plus price movements in the recreation & culture, and clothing & footwear sectors. A rise in petrol and diesel prices partially offset the fall.

Although inflation has fallen, it still far outstrips total pay increases. According to the latest figures available, pay rose by just 1.7 per cent in the year to May 2013. It has been over three years since average pay rose by more than inflation:

The RPI measure of inflation was also reported today: it rose to 3.1 per cent. Although RPI is no longer an official "National Statistic", a number of important prices are pegged to it. This month, it feeds through into national rail fares, which are allowed to increase by a maximum of the RPI for August plus 1 per cent. As a result, fares over the next year will rise by 4.1 per cent.

The latest figure for house price increases was also released today. Over the twelve months to June, prices rose by 3.1 per cent, outstripping inflation and widening the gap between those lucky enough to own property and the rest. But as ever, the housing story reveals the gap between parts of Britain. The ONS reports:

The year-on-year increase reflected growth of 3.3% in England and 4.3% in Wales, offset by falls of 0.9% in Scotland and 0.4% in Northern Ireland.

Within England too, there were vast discrepancies:

Annual house price increases in England were driven by London (8.1%), the West Midlands (3.1%) and the South East (2.9%). Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices increased by 1.0% in the 12 months to June 2013.

Yorkshire and the Humber actually saw a decline in house prices, by 0.2 per cent, while in the South West, prices remained stable with 0.0 per cent growth.

Piggy banks. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty
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We know what Donald Trump's presidency will look like - and it's terrifying

The direction of America's 45th president plans to take is all too clear.

Welcome to what we may one day describe as the last day of the long 20th century.

“The Trump Era: The Decline of the Great Republic” is our cover story. “Now the world holds its breath” is the Mirror’s splash, “Protesters mass ahead of Trump's presidency” is the Times’, while the Metro opts to look back at America’s departing 44th President: “Farewell Mr President” sighs their frontpage.

Of today’s frontpages, i best captures the scale of what’s about to happen: “The day the world changes”. And today’s FT demonstrates part of that change: “Mnuchin backs 'long-term' strong dollar after mixed Trump signals”. The President-Elect (and sadly that’s the last time I’ll be able to refer to Trump in that way) had suggested that the dollar was overvalued, statements that his nominee for Treasury Secretary has rowed back on.

Here’s what we know about Donald Trump so far: that his major appointments split into five groups: protectionists, white nationalists, conservative ideologues,  his own family members, and James Mattis, upon whom all hope that this presidency won’t end in global catastrophe now rests.  Trump has done nothing at all to reassure anyone that he won’t use the presidency to enrich himself on a global scale. His relationship with the truth remains just as thin as it ever was.

Far from “not knowing what Trump’s presidency will look like”, we have a pretty good idea: at home, a drive to shrink the state, and abroad, a retreat from pro-Europeanism and a stridently anti-China position, on trade for certain and very possibly on Taiwan as well.

We are ending the era of the United States as a rational actor and guarantor of a degree of global stability, and one in which the world’s largest hegemon behaves as an irrational actor and guarantees global instability.

The comparison with Brexit perhaps blinds many people to the scale of the change that Trump represents. The very worst thing that could happen after Brexit is that we become poorer.  The downside of Trump could be that we look back on 1989 to 2017 as the very short 21st century.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.