Harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) (prc_hicp)

National Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Office for National Statistics, National Statistical Institute of United Kingdom

Time Dimension: 2017-A0

Data Provider: UK1

Data Flow: HICP_ESMS_A

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Office for National Statistics, National Statistical Institute of United Kingdom

1.2. Contact organisation unit


1.5. Contact mail address

Office for National Statistics /Cardiff Road /Newport /South Wales NP10 8XG UNITED KINGDOM

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 04/04/2017
2.2. Metadata last posted 04/04/2017
2.3. Metadata last update 04/04/2017

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Harmonised indices of consumer prices (HICP) give comparable measures of inflation for the countries and country groups. They are economic indicators that measure the change over time of the prices of consumer goods and services acquired by households. In other words they are a set of consumer price indices (CPIs) calculated according to a harmonised approach and a single set of definitions.

3.2. Classification system

ECOICOP (European Classification of Individual Consumption according to Purpose).

3.3. Coverage - sector

HICPs cover the whole household sector, more precisely the goods and services that acquired by households

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The following data are published:

1) Monthly data:

•           Indices(HICP 2005=100, HICP: 1996=100, HICP at constant taxes 2005=100)

•           Annual rates of change

•           Monthly rates of change

•           12-month average rate of change

2) Annual data:

•           Average index and rate of change

•           Country weights Item weights

3.5. Statistical unit

Each published index or rate of change refers to the 'final monetary consumption expenditure' of the whole household sector of the corresponding geographical entity.

3.6. Statistical population

The target statistical universe is the 'household final monetary consumption expenditure' (HFMCE) within the economic territories of the countries compiling the HICP. The household sector to which the definition refers includes all individuals or groups of individuals irrespective of, in particular, the type of area in which they live, their position in the income distribution and their nationality or residence status. These definitions follow the national account concepts in the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010).

HICPs comprise all purchases by households within the territory of a country; those by both resident and non-resident households (i.e. 'domestic concept'). HICPs cover the prices paid for goods and services in monetary transactions. The prices measured are those actually faced by consumers. The HICPs exclude interest and credit charges, regarding them as financing costs rather than consumption expenditure.

3.7. Reference area


The UK HICP weights cover the domestic territory of the United Kingdom.


Prices are collected from a statistical sample of locations from all regions of the UK.

3.8. Coverage - Time

HICP indices for the United Kingdom are available from January 1996 and annual and monthly inflation rates from January 1997 (earlier years are estimates). In the UK, the HICP is published as the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).

3.9. Base period

The index reference period is 2015=100.

4. Unit of measure Top

Following units are used:

  • Index (actually unit less, i.e. it is the ratio of the price of the basket in a given year to the price in the base year multiplied by 100. However, the HICP can be thought of as the amount the average consumer would have to spend in a given year to buy the same basic goods and services that one would have to pay 100 monetary units for in the base period).
  • Percentage change on the same period of the previous year (rates).
  • Percentage change on the previous period (rates).
  • Percentage share of the total (weights).

5. Reference Period Top


6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices (HICPs) are harmonised inflation figures required under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 2016/792 of 11 May 2016 (OJ L 135) sets the legal basis for establishing a harmonised methodology for the compilation of the HICPs, the MUICP and the EICP.

Under this Regulation, the Commission has brought forward detailed Regulations establishing the specific rules governing the production of harmonised indices. To date, over 20 specific regulations governing issues as quality of weights, transmission and dissemination of sub-indices, coverage of goods and services, geographical and population coverage, minimum standards for the treatment of tariffs, insurance, health, education and social protection services, timing of entering prices, treatment of price reductions, treatment of service charges, revisions policy, new index reference period, temporal coverage of price collection and sampling, replacement and quality adjustment procedures, and seasonal items have been adopted. A set of Recommendations is also available.

All relevant regulations as well as further methodological details can be found in the HICP section on Eurostat's website under Methodology => Legislation.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

In line with the UK Governments data provision and transparency policy e.g. FOI, Open Government Licence.  Subject to data releases being non-disclosive.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 11 March 2009, on the transmission of data subject to statistical confidentiality to the Statistical Office of the European Communities.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

In line with UK’s Statistics Authority Code of Practice for Official Statistics - Principle 5 Confidentiality.


8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

The release calendar is available to the public. Release dates for Prices data are published at the end of the current year for the following year.

8.2. Release calendar access

Statistics: release calendar.

8.3. Release policy - user access

Publication is at 9.30 am (local time) on the second or third Tuesday of the month.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Harmonised consumer price indices are produced monthly.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

Published when considered such briefing would be helpful to users.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Further details about the UK HICP can be found on our website: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/index.html

Weights, Index levels, 12-month and 1-month rates of change are published for 85 COICOP Classes, in addition there are special aggregates published for All goods and All services, plus other special aggregates in common with Eurostat publications.

Our publications are:

Consumer Price Inflation Statistical Bulletin and Briefing Tables


10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Office for National Statistics Time Series Database - is a free service that allows you to access and download data from a database of more than 40,000 economic and socio-economic time series.


10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

The Virtual Microdata Laboratory (VML) is a facility within the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which enables access to restricted microdata for research purposes. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/about-ons/who-we-are/services/index.html

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Contact cpi@ons.gsi.gov.uk for assistance

10.6. Documentation on methodology

A full description of the methodology used to construct the UK HICP ‘Consumer Prices Technical Manual 2014 Edition’, which is available from the National Statistics website:


10.7. Quality management - documentation

See Eurostat's Compliance Monitoring Report of 2009 and 2015.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Controls on the quality of the data:

  • Price collection: All shop-collected prices are obtained using hand-held computers. This ensures that all relevant information is recorded at the time of price collection. These computers also have a number of checking routines which flag up to the collector if a price entered exceeds a given percentage change from the previous month’s observed price. In such circumstances, the collector is prompted to check the price and record an explanation. In addition, a number of locations are back-checked each month by ONS Auditors to verify the accuracy of the recorded prices.
  • Data processing: Before being delivered to the ONS, our price collection contractors make a number of numerical checks on the data; any suspicious prices are then checked. Within the ONS, we then run a number of scrutiny checks to ensure the validity of the observed prices before the HICP indices are calculated. All our internal processes and checks are subject to a formal ‘quality management’ process which is accredited to the ISO 9001 standard, which is subject to annual auditing and review.
  • Index calculation: We have rigorous documented procedures and checking programs, with several stages of checking and ‘sign off’ before each month’s index is considered finalised. These procedures are also quality assured and are subject to, and accredited by the ISO 9001 standard.
11.2. Quality management - assessment

Summary Quality Report for Consumer Price Indices


12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

See 11.2.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

See 11.2.

12.3. Completeness

All COICOP indices at 5-digit level are produced.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

See 11.2.

13.2. Sampling error

See 11.2.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not available.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Published within 2 to 3 weeks of reference period.

14.2. Punctuality

UK HICP always published on pre-announced date.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

See 3.1.

15.2. Comparability - over time

HICP data are fully comparable over time. There have been several improvements in methodology since HICP was introduced with the aim of improving reliability and comparability of the HICP. These changes may have introduced breaks in time series. However back calculations under the newer standards were performed when appropriate basic data was available.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Not available.

15.4. Coherence - internal

HICPs are internal coherent. Higher level aggregations are derived from detailed indices according to well-defined procedures.

16. Cost and Burden Top

Not currently available.  An exercise to collate this data is due to be carried out in the near future

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

HICP series, including back data, are revisable under the terms set in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1921/2001 of 28 September 2001. The published HICP data may be revised for mistakes, new or improved information, and changes in the system of harmonised rules.

17.2. Data revision - practice

The UK HICP is published as ‘final’ and is not subject to revision unless an error or mistake is found. If such an error or mistake arose, we would follow the relevant HICP regulation.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Sample size (The below figures relate to averages as of February 2017, but are indicative of every year):

Approximately 120,000 price observations are collected1from approximately 18,742 retail outlets*

Approximate Nr. of price observations per month: February 2017

01Food and non-alcoholic beverages 31,489

02Alcoholic beverages, tobacco 5,623

03 Clothing and footwear 23,420

04 Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 2,415

05 Furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance of the House 15,097

06 Health 2,123

07 Transport 3,703

08 Communication 600

09 Recreation and culture 12,290

10 Education 0*

11 Restaurants and hotels 12,866

12 Miscellaneous goods and services 10,129

The above figures are the target number of quotes to be collected. As some items may be out of stock during the collection, the actual number of prices collected in any month is less than the quoted targets.

* includes centrally collected items from national suppliers, but excludes central spreadsheet items


Number of representative items at the lowest classification level (The below figures relate to February of 2017 but are indicative of every year):

All items: 708

01 Food and non-alcoholic beverages 171

02 Alcoholic beverages, tobacco 30

03 Clothing and footwear 80

04 Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 29

05 Furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance of the House 72

06 Health 19

07 Transport 41

08 Communication 11

09 Recreation and culture 121

10 Education 5

11 Restaurants and hotels 51

12 Miscellaneous goods and services 78

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Price collection for all goods and services excluding petrol and insurance covers a three-day period around the middle of the month. Prices for petrol and insurance are collected throughout the month.

18.3. Data collection

Outlet selection:

Shopping locations are statistically selected from across the UK using a probability proportional to size (PPS) sampling frame, stratified by region. Outlets within locations are first classified by shop type and then sampled using a PPS methodology. The sample is usually rotated over a rolling five year period (i.e. 20 percent of locations and outlets are re-sampled each year).

Techniques of products selection and specification:

For the UK HICP and RPI a systematic annual review of indices is conducted each year. This includes:

Updating weights at every level;

A systematic review of the index basket to maintain relevance and representativity which is evidence-based and via thorough market research, HBS data analysis, desk research and field observations etc. The aim is to identify which products are important to consumers, and where specific suppliers are important so that they are adequately represented in the sample.

For about 142 items (38.3 percent by weight of the HICP), prices are collected centrally by HQ staff. These prices are largely utilities, administered prices, or services provided either by a small number of suppliers, e.g. cable TV, university tuition fees etc., or where prices are unique, e.g. theme parks etc. Each of these centrally collected items is reviewed systematically each year. (This may involve re-sampling and or re-weighting as required).

18.4. Data validation

See 11.1.

18.5. Data compilation


The data sources of the COICOP Class weights are (with three exceptions) the UK National Accounts. The three exceptions are

  • Air Travel: a Household Budget Survey and International Passenger Survey are used;
  • Package Holidays: a Household Budget Survey is used;
  • Actual Rentals for Housing: National Accounts data are used; these data are supplemented, though, by a Household Budget Survey.

The current national accounts reference period for weights is the year 2015. To make the expenditure data as up-to-date as possible price updating is used. For the 2017 weights expenditure from the calendar year 2015 is updated to December 2016 by applying the respective change in price between 2015 and December 2016. This process is applied at the lowest level of COICOP within the weighting structure using the accompanying price movement for that COICOP level. At the second update of weights, published with the February index, the same underlying 2015 expenditure is updated to January 2017 by applying the respective change in price between 2015 and January 2017. Below the lowest COICOP level there are around 700 ‘item index’ weights at national level; these are largely based on the UK household budget survey supplemented by other data. Below this there are around 5000 stratum weights (shop type and regional weights). New weights are calculated each year using the latest available data. 

Computation of the lowest-level indices:

Where weighting information is not available, the geometric mean is used at the lowest level to combine prices. 

Treatment of missing items and replacements:

  • Missing prices are treated in accordance with HICP regulations, i.e. prices are rolled forward for the first and second months. If in the third month the price is still missing, the item is replaced.
  • Replacement items are flagged as either comparable (essentially the same in terms of their price determining characteristics) in which case the full price of the new item is taken into the index, or as non-comparable. In the case of a non-comparable item, a base price for the replacement item is imputed from the price movements of the existing items within the same strata. For example, if a loaf of bread in a supermarket is replaced by another non-comparable bread item, then the base price for the new item is imputed from the price movements of all other bread items priced within supermarkets.
  • For some items, in particular TVs and some white goods, if a specific item disappears, then collectors are given a list of possible replacement items which have been selected from examining scanner data to determine the ‘most sold’ replacement item within the same market segment. (In the UK this is known as ‘remote sampling’).

Introduction of newly significant goods and services:

These are identified during our annual review process and are introduced as part of the annual update of the HICP Basket. (See the section above on ‘Techniques of products selection and specification’).

Treatment of price reductions:

Sales prices are included in the HICP in accordance with the Regulation on the minimum standards for price reductions in the HICP. Sales periods are not regulated in the UK and can occur at any time in any month, though they are more frequent in January & February and in the Summer.

Treatment of seasonal items:

Scope of Seasonal Items within the UK HICP

There are only 12 seasonal items in the UK HICP with seven of the items within ‘Clothing’. The remaining items are within ‘Fruit’, ‘Furniture & Furnishings’, ‘Equipment for Sport, Camping and Open-Air Recreation’, ‘Gardens, Plants & Flowers’ and ‘Tools & Equipment for House & Garden’. For seasonal clothing and gardening products, some items are unavailable for part of the year and there is seasonal variation in the supplies of other items.

Measurement Method

The Standard of the Commission Regulation No 330/2009 on the treatment of seasonal items was implemented into the UK HICP in 2010. From January 2011 index ONS adopted the seasonal estimation method as set out in HICP Regulation 330/2009, for constructing seasonal items in the UK HICP.


18.6. Adjustment

Adjustment for quality differences:

The following items are explicitly quality adjusted:

New cars: option costing

PCs, laptops, mobile handsets, and digital cameras: hedonics

Technical manuals: 2012 and 2014.

19. Comment Top


Related metadata Top

Annexes Top