Big Ticket Items: How ONS is transforming its measures of inflation 

Picture of row of terraced houses

Today marks an important step in the ONS’s transformation journey, with the launch of new private housing rents statistics. Utilising far more data points than before, these new measures allow us to measure both the level and rate of change in rental prices right down to local authority areas. Chris Jenkins tells us about these new figures as well as our new data source for measuring the prices of second-hand cars.   

Housing and cars represent some of the biggest financial outgoings many of us face.  

Improving our measure of rental prices

I have previously explained how we produce our measures of housing costs, but we have been working on some exciting new developments to both improve how we measure and present our housing market data.  

Today we published our new, monthly Private rent and house prices, UK statistical bulletin. This brings together the latest rents data and headline UK house price estimates to provide a combined view of housing costs and a more coherent insight and understanding of wider housing market trends.  

Our housing release includes our new Price Index of Private Rents (PIPR), which uses new methods. PIPR has been developed in response to user feedback that highlighted the need for private rental price data at a more detailed geographic level, and private rental price levels that are comparable over time. We are pleased that PIPR meets both these requirements and provides you with greater insights into the private rental market than ever before. The housing release replaces our previous measures of private rental prices, the Index of Private Housing Rental Prices (IPHRP) and the Private Rental Market Summary Statistics in England (PRMS) along with our previous House Price Index . The full UK House Price Index reports and analysis will still be available via GOV.UK.  

Our new ONS release will focus on drawing together a combined view of housing costs across both rents and house prices.  

We are also excited to provide users with our new interactive housing prices tool. The extra granularity provided by PIPR means we now have detailed data at a local authority level for rents to supplement what is already available for house prices. This tool will quickly provide users with the latest housing price insights at local geographic levels. This is very much a work in progress so we would welcome your feedback.  

Second hand car prices

The rents figures feed directly into our headline consumer price indices. Also feeding in and improving these measures, today we are going live with a vastly improved measure of second hand car prices, using data from Auto Trader. This increases the number of second hand car prices used each month from around a hundred to around 300,000, and marks another step change in our measurement of inflation.   

Many more grocery prices

But it doesn’t stop there. Later in the year we will begin full scale running of our new system for collecting supermarket prices.  Replacing the current physical collection from March 2025, the new method will see us use over 30 million price points each month digitally from supermarkets across the country While this won’t tell us anything about individual people’s spending, it will give us crucial information about exactly what supermarkets are selling and for how much, transforming our understanding of consumer behaviour.  

These are exciting times to be working on inflation statistics and I look forward to sharing new findings with you in the months ahead.   

Image of blog author, Chris Jenkins

Christopher Jenkins is Assistant Deputy Director for Prices Division at the ONS