Tobacco and childcare drive cost of living increase

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The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.9 per cent in the December quarter.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the rise was primarily due to an increase in tobacco excise and the unwinding of the government’s free childcare scheme.

This means that non-smoking pensioners will be most unaffected by the significant price rises for the quarter, but will still reap the benefits of any pension increase on 20 March 2021.

Other price rises in the December quarter were domestic holiday travel (+6.3 per cent), with state and territory borders reopening in the lead up to the Christmas period, and medical and hospital services (+2.5 per cent), after private health premiums increased on 1 October following a six-month freeze.

The most significant price fall was in electricity (-7.5 per cent) after the WA Household Electricity Credit provided households with a one-off $600 credit, resulting in a fall in electricity prices of 66.7 per cent in Perth. Perth was the only capital city to record a negative CPI rate from the previous quarter as a result of this scheme.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages rose slightly (+0.2 per cent) after the end of Melbourne’s lockdown period saw consumers again able to dine at restaurants, but this was offset by a six per cent fall in the price of vegetables thanks to easing drought conditions.

Clothing and footwear were also less expensive (-1.0 per cent) with women’s garments leading the way (-5.4 per cent) due to the increased participation of retailers in promotional events such as Black Friday.

In terms of YourLifeChoices’ six retirement cohorts, cost of living increases were very similar with 0.7 per cent rises for all cohorts except for cash-strapped couples (0.6 per cent) and well-off singles (0.8 per cent).

Have any goods and services had a big impact on your budget in recent months?

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