Russell Lynch: Yet another way to make the numbers add up

Outlook What Britain really needs, the Office for National Statistics has decided, is another inflation index – to add to the 11 we have already.

Hence in March, after a two-year consultation on the retail price index which has decided it isn't fit for purpose, the ONS will publish a new benchmark, called RPIJ.

RPIJ basically consists of what the number-crunchers wanted to do to the RPI, but were barred from doing by the National Statistician, Jil Matheson.

It will be statistically pure, but have no practical application at all: one economist invoked the spirit of legendary Bullseye host Jim Bowen by dubbing it the "look at what you could have won index". Yet the flawed, existing RPI will be used to price returns on some £350bn of inflation-linked government debt.

If you think this is a rum state of affairs, you're not alone. The ONS overseer, the National Statistics Authority, has called for an immediate review of the current RPI to assess whether it still merits inclusion in the national statistics. The ONS will deny it until they are blue in the face, but leaving the RPI alone feels like they've bottled a decision that takes them uncomfortably into political territory.

More than 80 per cent of the responses to its consultation called for no change, and a mere 16 per cent cited any methodological reasons in the response. It was more a case of winners and losers, and "I'm alright Jack".

Pensioners in private schemes linked to RPI were in the immediate line of fire, as their pension increases would have dwindled under a reformed index. The vocal pensioner lobby claimed victory as the decision emerged. With RPI also linked to a host of other major payments such as student loans, utility bills, fuel and beer duties, it was easier to maintain the status quo.

So as it stands, investors in RPI-linked debt are getting over the odds from taxpayers. Train companies will continue to charge commuters too much due to the RPI link, and our water bills will be too high. This is scandalous.

If the ONS has fudged the changes, it's up to the Chancellor to make sure we have a fair measure of inflation, not a broken one.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific