The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is designed to measure the change in the average level of prices paid for consumer goods and services by all private households and foreign visitors to Ireland. The CPI is the official measure of inflation. The most recent CPI figures are available on the Central Statistics Office (CSO) website.
The Central Statistics Office carries out this survey by collecting the prices of a fixed representative group of goods and services on an ongoing basis every month. These prices are then compared to the prices from the same goods and services from the previous month and the price change calculated. The prices of these goods and services are then combined into a single index measuring the overall level of prices. The index is compiled in the week of the second Tuesday of each month up to and including the third Tuesday of each month.
The goods and services that are included in the basket are determined from the Household Budget Survey. The relative importance or weights of these goods and services are also decided by the CSO from information collected in the Household Budget survey. The main purpose of the Household Budget Survey is to determine in detail the current pattern of household expenditure in order to update the expenditure weighting of the CPI.
The CSO provide information on how the CPI is calculated (pdf).
The CPI tells us the percentage change in prices over time. If we compare index numbers for 2 different products, we can say that the price of one product is rising or falling faster or slower than the other. Prices will generally increase with time and your money loses purchasing power. This increase in the overall level of prices is called inflation.
You could also use the CPI - among other things - to check whether your wages have kept pace with prices. If your take-home pay increases by less than the index over a certain period (say a year), then you are less well off.
Apart from calculating the overall price index, the CSO calculates indices for specific types of goods such as food or housing.
The CSO provides information on frequently asked questions about the Consumer Price Index (pdf).
The CPI covers the full range of housing costs, namely:
Water supply and sewage collection were added in January 2015.
The outright purchase of a house or apartment as a private residence is not covered in the CPI as it is considered to be a form of investment rather than consumer expenditure. Down payments in the case of mortgage arrangements and the capital element of mortgage repayments are also excluded from the CPI for the same reason.
Each month, the CSO publishes the monthly and annual rate of inflation - this is given in terms of the percentage changes in prices since the preceding month and since the same month in the previous year. These rates of inflation are the monthly and annual headline inflation figures quoted by economic commentators and the media.
The CSO also publishes separate indices and percentage changes for the following twelve groups of goods and services:
These 12 groups display price trends for broad categories of goods and services and the extent to which they contribute to overall inflation.
The CPI releases are available to the public from the CSO web site free of charge.
All information supplied to the CSO is treated as strictly confidential. The Statistics Act, 1993 sets out stringent confidentiality standards stating that information collected may be used only for statistical purposes and that no details that might be related to an identifiable person or business undertaking may be divulged to any other government department or body.
The results of the Consumer Price Index are available to the public on request from the Central Statistics Office.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000. The Phone Service will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm during January 2017. You can also visit your local Citizens Information Centre.