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The cost of basic goods and services needed by the average household with two children in the UK has risen by £400 a month, according to analysis which suggests families are experiencing faster inflation than official figures indicate.

Costs for families with two children have risen 13% a year, Loughborough University research shows, faster than the 9% inflation rate seen in official statistics – itself a 40-year high years.

UK households are grappling with a cost of living crisis, with prices rising much faster than wages, reducing their purchasing power.

Rising energy prices have been a particular driver, with the recovery from coronavirus shutdowns followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine driving global prices soaring. The UK wholesale natural gas futures price was £148 per therm on Friday, well over three times higher than a year ago.

Food prices have also increased by 9.3% over the past year, while child care costs have increased by 6.7%. The researchers found that families spend around £120 extra per month on energy, £90 more on transport including petrol, and £65 on childcare.

The figures are part of research into the Minimum Income Standard (MIS), an ongoing program to develop budgets for different types of households to match people’s perceptions of a ‘minimum acceptable standard of living in the UK “. They are widely used by charities and the government and form part of the basis for calculating a living wage.

Families are rationing showers to once a week, forgoing milk in their tea and eating cold meals to avoid using the oven to cut costs, said Peter Matejic, deputy director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity which funds MIS research.

“Rising prices affect us all, but for the UK’s poorest families there is no escape from soaring costs as a large part of their income goes to essentials which everyone world needs to participate in society,” said Matejic.

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“Those on the lowest incomes now face dangerously high inflation months ahead of Bank of England projections, and without an adequate support mechanism to protect their families from harm.”

The charity has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to increase benefit payments in line with inflation so families can meet their basic needs.

Matt Padley, associate director at the Loughborough Center for Social Policy Research, said it was the biggest increase in the cost of the minimum basket of goods and services since at least 2008, when the calculation was made for the first time. Further increases are expected later in the year, when the energy price cap is expected to jump again, increasing energy costs for millions of households when cold fall weather arrives.

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