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What food would cost if it increased like house prices

Simon Ward
by Lovemoney Staff Simon Ward on 07 February 2013  |  Comments 4 comments

Housing charity Shelter has looked at how much we'd have to pay for food today if prices matched house price inflation over the past 40 years.

What food would cost if it increased like house prices

If UK food prices had risen at the same rate as house prices over the last 40 years, a leg of lamb would now cost £53.18.

That’s according to housing charity Shelter, which is using property price inflation as part of a campaign to highlight the difficulties facing people wanting to get on the property ladder.

The price of eggs (matched to house prices)

Using Office for National Statistics data, which shows house prices rose by over 43 times between 1971 and 2011, Shelter calculated the following costs for essential food items.


Inflationary cost

Leg of lamb


Whole chicken


Four-pint carton of milk


Bunch of six bananas


Box of six eggs


Loaf of sliced white bread


In total, using this inflationary measure, Shelter says the average weekly cost of food for a family of four would be £453.28.

Call for more affordable homes

Shelter says nearly six in ten people who don’t own a home believe they’ll never be able to afford to buy where they currently live. It wants the Government to invest in more affordable housing.

A Shelter spokesperson told us: “Today’s dysfunctional housing market isn’t the result of the credit crunch or more restrained mortgage lending, but decades of underinvestment in building enough affordable homes.

“Without bigger and bolder action soon, the chances of the next generation getting an affordable place of their own look increasingly bleak.”

I'd disagree that this is the sole reason, as prices were also fuelled by the availability of cheap credit, which of course then led to the financial system going belly up.

Shelter Chief Executive Campbell Robb said: “The high cost of food is already a real concern for people, so if prices reached these levels there’s no way we’d accept it. Yet when it comes to the huge rise in the cost of buying a home over the past few decades, somehow this is seen as normal – even welcome – despite the impact it’s having on a generation desperate for a home of their own.”

Well, it would be a surprise if those older people lucky enough to see their home soar in value didn't welcome the increase. And I'd argue the 'normalisation' of house price inflation is, in part, down to the media.

But it does obviously present a huge problem for the next generation, burdened by rising living costs and facing a lack of available credit. Unfortunately, in my opinion, there is no quick fix. Take affordable housing – the issues around land use and development are far more complex than simply building a load of new homes, and they need to be built in places where there are jobs and infrastructure.

So while Shelter is highlighting this issue in an innovative way, it's really not that simple.

What do you think? Do you agree with Shelter that a lack of affordable housing is to blame for house price inflation? Let us know in the Comments box below.

More on house prices

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Why the experts are wrong about house prices

Why house prices won't recover until 2024

Is overcrowding to blame for high house prices?

What's the 'right' price of your house?

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Comments (4)

  • Arblaster
    Love rating 46
    Arblaster said

    In total, using this inflationary measure, Shelter says the average weekly cost of food for a family of four would be £453.28.

    Take note of that figure £453.28. Once Mark Carney has settled into his new job as Governor of the Bank of England, that is what you will be paying.

    Report on 09 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • yocoxy
    Love rating 154
    yocoxy said

    Mike, what is 'greedy' about making a safe investment?

    Why is buy to let not a 'proper investment?

    Investing in an asset that one might expect to rise in value seems to me to be to a perfectly sensible and reasonable investment. Refusing rent would cause more of an outcry if the property was empty and the rent is no different from share dividends. It is income generated by the asset.

    It's a shame that this site is no longer really focussed on investment discussions as Mottley Fool did and the title "LoveMoney" might suggest. The comment streams here seem to be just full of bitter, anti Government and often anti capitalism cynics.

    Mark, would you like to predict a date when £453.28 will be the average weekly cost of food? I suspect it will be many decades away and Mark Carney will be long gone.

    Report on 16 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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