‘Brexit added almost £6 billion to UK food bills’

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Brexit added almost £6 billion to UK food bills in the two years to the end of 2021, affecting poorest households the most, a recent research has found. 

According to a study by London School of Economics (LSE) researchers, the cost of food imported from the EU shot up because of extra red tape, adding £210 to the average household food bills over 2020 and 2021. 

As low-income families spend a greater share of their income on food, the impact of Brexit on their purchases was disproportionately greater, they said. 

Researchers at the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at the LSE studied micro data-tracking trade flows and consumer prices for food products in the UK to identify the transfer of the cost of Brexit red tape to householders. 

“We find that leaving the European Union increased the price of food products by 3 per cent a year, leading to a 6 per cent increase over a two-year period,” they say in their report, named “Non-tariff barriers and consumer prices: evidence from Brexit”. 

CEP found the Brexit-induced price rise led to an overall cost of living increase for the poorest households of 1.1 per cent – 52 per cent more than the 0.7 per cent rise felt in the top 10 per cent of households in Britain, The Guardian reported. 

The research comes the day after data from the British Retail Consortium trade body showed UK food price inflation hit a record high of 12.4 per cent in November as the price of basics such as eggs, dairy products and coffee rose. 

Its calculations translated to a £5.84bn cost to the food market alone, equating to £210 per household. 

After the December 2019 election, researchers found an immediate rise in food prices from the EU as businesses reliant on products and ingredients “immediately began to pass on to consumers” the cost of customs administration staff and other Brexit staff, the report says.