Letter: The best measure of inflation

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Sir: Your article " `Inflation overstated' finding could ease rates pressure" (Business and City, 29 July) misrepresents our position.

The Boskin Report raised no new issues; it simply gave a select range of issues greater prominence. Statisticians worldwide, and at ONS, have been studying these and other complex problems associated with consumer price indices for many years. Our view, on past work, is that the RPI at present remains the most accurate single measure of consumer inflation in the UK. It is produced using the best available methodology following advice of an independent RPI advisory committee.

What we are confident about is that many of the issues raised in the Boskin Report for the US do not have the same force in the UK. Nevertheless, along with many other countries, we are undertaking additional research and analysis to investigate further the issues raised.

The RPI is extremely important and it is essential that our research work is shared with international colleagues and with experts in this country so that we can assure ourselves that it is well based. The ONS paper referred to in your article was a discussion document containing preliminary views from one statistician on some aspects of the work programme.

When this work is complete and has been tested against parallel international research we will be in a better position to form a view about whether or not the RPI is biased. We would consult widely on such an important issue.

TIM HOLT

Director, Registrar General

and Head of the Government Statistical Service

Office for National Statistics

London SW1

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