Ipswich families lose out to inflation - but not as badly as other cities

Ipswich Cornhill

Ipswich has suffered from high inflation - but the gap between wages and costs is not as great as in some other cities. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Rising levels of inflation have made workers in Ipswich about £55 a month worse off over the last year according to the independent think-tank Centre For Cities.

But that figure is considerably less than most similar-sized towns and cities across the country - and it is lower than any other centre surveyed in the East of England.

The Centre for Cities' report "Out of pocket: the places at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis" looks at the level of cost inflation faced by families and wage inflation in 63 cities and large towns across the country between April 2021 and May this year.

In Ipswich, the cost inflation was 10.4% but wages went up by an average of 7.7%, meaning people were on average 2.7% worse off.

On the area's average income that meant people were seeing about £55 a month less in their pockets.

But that compared well with other places - in Norwich the figure was £97 a month, in Southend in Essex it was £125 a month, and in Cambridge where special factors were at play it was £322 a month although incomes are much higher.

Across the country cities in the north and midlands had the greatest gaps - but  Centre for Cities Chief Executive Andrew Carter said: “The entire country has been impacted by the cost of living crisis but our research clearly shows some areas are being hit much harder than others. 

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“These disparities prove that levelling up our cities to tackle spatial inequalities and futureproof the economy is more important than ever.

“In the short-term it is imperative that those most vulnerable are given the support they need to get through this crisis. Even while Westminster’s political situation is uncertain, ministers must act quickly to protect the areas most impacted and ensure they don’t fall even further behind.”

Ipswich Council Labour leader was surprised that the town had such a small difference between cost and income inflation - especially because it had so many public sector workers and their wage rises had been very small.

Leader of Ipswich Borough Council David Ellesmere

David Ellesmere said Ipswich had not been as badly affected as some towns and cities - but rising prices were hitting the poorest. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

He said: "This could be something to do with the growth in the logistic sector around the area in recent years which has created new jobs with increased wages.

"But the fact is this shows people are seeing their incomes fall, and those with the lowest incomes are seeing the biggest fall."

He said the only positive about the figure was that Ipswich was not in quite such a difficult position as other centres - but there were clear problems faced by residents.

And the squeeze on incomes is being felt by town centre businesses - although the cost of living crisis has not yet hit the High Street quite as badly as feared just yet.

Sophie Alexander-Parker Suffolk 100

Sophie Alexander-Parker of Ipswich Central - Credit: SIMPLY C PHOTOGRAPHY/CHERRY BEESLEY

Sophie Alexander-Parker, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said: "The latest report from Centre For Cities highlights the challenges that many households and businesses are facing in the cost-of-living crisis.

"Ipswich is faring ok compared to other large towns and cities in the UK; whilst purse-strings are tightening, many local businesses are adapting to the challenges their customers face. 

"However, more support is needed for businesses as they are doubly affected in this crisis. With changing customer behaviour alongside the rises in their own bills and operating costs, it is more important than ever to choose local and support Ipswich businesses."