Filling the tank now costs 15 euros more than it did a year ago. / EFE

Rising prices in the midst of the crisis are costing families an extra 750 euros a year

As well as the increase in electricity and fuel prices, shopping, natural gas and even a bottle of butane are all more expensive now

FRANCISCO JIMÉNEZ MALAGA.

Putting the washing machine on, shopping, putting fuel in the car, cooking, using hot water... what do all these everyday activities have in common? That's easy. They are all much more expensive than they were a year ago. The rise in prices to historic levels due to the general rise in energy costs is extending in all areas and squeezing families even more at a time when households are already severely under pressure due to unemployment and reduced salaries because of the pandemic. This is a perfect storm which, when translated into numbers, is costing families an average of 750 euros more a year.

Shopping basket. 366 euros more

Rises of up to 5% for basic products

Practically half of this extra cost applies to shopping. If an average home spent 5,125 euros in 2020 after a rise of 2.8% compared with the year before (4,986), in 2021 the cost has risen by 7.1 per cent to 5,491 euros, according to a study carried out by the Consumers and Users Organisation (OCU) each year.

This shows that 55 per cent of food, hygiene and drugstore products are now more expensive, especially the rise of five per cent for basic items like milk, eggs and meat, as well as vegetable oils, soft drinks and juices with added sugar (in the latter case it is due to IVA being increased for this type of product).

This is once again reflected in the last Consumer Price Index (IPC), which rose another seven-tenths of a decimal point in September and shot up to an inter-annual rate of four per cent, the biggest leap since September 2008 (4.6%), which the National Institute of Statistics (INE) attributes mainly to the rise in electricity, gas and fuel. Altogether, it puts the increase last year at 27 per cent nationally, although in Malaga it rises to 30 per cent.

These are followed by expenditure on personal mobility vehicles (bicycles and scooters), which rose by 12.8 per cent, hotel accommodation at 12.2 per cent and large durable goods for leisure and culture at 8.8 per cent.

Returning to basic products, foods in general in Malaga province have risen by 1.9 per cent, and non-alcoholic drinks by 6.8 per cent. On the positive side for family budgets, telephone equipment is one of the few items which have dropped in price, in this case by 10.7 per cent.

Electricity bills. 140 euros more

From one record to another despite changes of habit

When the INE places electricity as one of the services which is going up most in price, there is no mistake. Not even the reduction in IVA applied by the government or the calculations made by families to adapt their use of electricity to the cheapest times of day seem to have been able to contain the progressive rise in costs. In just one year, the average bill has risen from 58.97 euros in September 2020 to 87.4 euros last month, which is an inter-annual increment of 140 euros. If the aforementioned reduction to IVA from 21 to 10 per cent had not taken place, it would have shot up to 107 euros, according to calculations from the OCU.

As an example, these are two real cases. First, a household with five members, which even including the 25 per cent reduction for a large family, has paid 72.64 euros for the September bill compared with 49.78 in the same month last year (a rise of 44.6 per cent), even though the amount of electricity they used has gone down (359 kWh in 2021 and 369 in 2020) and only one-fifth of their energy was used at the most expensive times of day (from 10am to 2pm and from 6pm to 10pm). The other example is a couple whose last bill was 90.15 euros for the 293kWh they used, while the 298kWh in September 2020 cost them 64.92 euros.

Gas. Between 50 and 70 euros more

Natural gas goes up by 14 per cent, and butane heads for the roof

Continuing to look at domestic uses, natural gas has also gone up in price, so the average annual bill for a household that uses 7,500 kWh (the most common profile in Andalucía), is now, after the latest quarterly update by the government, 553 euros compared with 485 in October last year (14 per cent more), according to the OCU.

Equally, a bottle of butane has risen by 33.4 per cent in the past year after six upward revisions due to the rise in the cost of the raw material. The last increase, in September, put the price of a standard 12.5 kg bottle at 16.13 euros (compared with 12.09 in September 2020). This is the highest price since January 2015, when it reached the record high of 17.5 euros.

Fuels. 180 euros more

A rise of 15 euros to fill the tank

In this scenario of rising prices, the finishing touch is provided by fuels, immersed in a spiral of price rises that in the past 12 months have involved an increase of 25 per cent. Today, it costs 15 euros more to fill the tank than it did just a year ago. Taking a 55 litre tank as a reference (the average for a normal car), filling up with 95-octane lead-free petrol costs 81.5 euros in Malaga province on average, while in October 2020 it would have been 65.8 euros. The average price per litre is 1.483 euros, although the Ministry of Industry says it has reached peaks of 1.579 in some places.

The case of diesel is similar, with an average price of 1.339 and thresholds up to 1.429 compared with 1.062 a year ago. The result? It means paying 73.6 euros to fill up the car, which is 26 per cent more than the 58.4 euros in 2020. Obviously, the impact varies depending on how much fuel each driver uses, but in the case of the vehicle being filled with diesel once a month, it costs an extra 180 euros. And that extra expense is if there is only one car in a household.