A nationwide cost of living index published today names Lichfield, Staffordshire as the city where people must work the longest to afford a Greggs sausage roll.
We commissioned senior independent economist John Hawksworth to carry out the study of 100 cities and towns across Great Britain, measuring the amount of time a typical full-time employee has to work to afford a takeaway sausage roll from the famous bakery.
Key takeaways (pun intended)
- Famous Greggs sausage roll is yardstick in nationwide cost of living index compiled by leading economist John Hawksworth and commissioned by InvestingReviews.co.uk
- Nationwide study explores regional inequalities across 100 towns and finds that Greggs customers in Lichfield, Middlesbrough and Nuneaton work around 65% harder for their sausage roll than Londoners despite the government’s levelling-up agenda
- Report was modelled on The Economist magazine’s worldwide Big Mac Index
The hardest earned sausage rolls were in Lichfield (4mins and 54secs) followed in joint second by Middlesbrough, Nuneaton, Truro and Hereford (all 4 mins and 48secs).
People in those towns typically had to work around 65% longer than more affluent Londoners to afford their sausage roll.
The Greggs Sausage Roll Index is the first known use of Sausage Roll-onomics as a benchmark tool to compare living standards across Great Britain, and exposes the regional inequalities that persist despite the government’s flagship levelling-up agenda.
It was calculated using Greggs sausage roll prices and local median hourly pay estimates provided by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
The approach was to take the latest available estimates of median gross hourly pay for full-time employees from the 2021 ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) and adjust them according to the latest available estimate from the ONS of regular pay growth in the three months to February 2022 as compared to a year earlier.
John Hawksworth said:
In part the analysis is a bit of fun with the sausage roll standing in for the Big Mac as a standardised product to compare purchasing power across different places. But it does also make the serious point that there are very large variations in income levels across our towns and cities.
These local earnings gaps are driven by variations in productivity across places that reflect deep-seated disparities in education, opportunity and infrastructure across the country.
Narrowing these income gaps remains one of the most important economic challenges facing this and future governments.”
Regular pay growth was used to avoid distortions due to high but volatile bonuses in the financial services sector, and the study focused on median pay rather than average earnings for similar reasons.
The fastest earned sausage rolls were mostly in the South East with London (2mins 58secs), Oxford (3mins 15secs), Slough, Guildford (both 3mins 16secs) and Derby (3mins 17secs) making up the top five.
Derby’s high ranking is indicative of the city’s relatively high earnings levels while Scotland also performed well with both Glasgow and Edinburgh in the Top 25, reflecting the fact that its median hourly pay rate is slightly above the national average.
Greggs’ spiritual home of Newcastle-upon-Tyne — where the late John Gregg opened his first shop in 1951 — managed only 30th place in the list of the country’s fastest earned sausage rolls. Geordies had to work an estimated 3mins 46secs to scrape together the necessary funds.
Further down the list, Cardiff came 40th with people working 3mins 54secs for their sausage roll while Swansea was lower still in 57th place with 4mins 12secs of effort required.
The Greggs Sausage Roll Index is loosely modelled on the famous Big Mac Index published by The Economist since 1986 to measure purchasing power across different nations. InvestingReviews.co.uk chose the humble sausage roll as its yardstick because, like the Big Mac, it is a standardised product sold by the same provider on every high street. Greggs sells approximately 2.5million sausage rolls a week across more than 2,000 shops with takeaway sausage rolls typically priced at £1.05.
The index did not include petrol forecourts and travel hubs where a premium is often charged to cover higher real estate costs. These were considered “outlier sausage rolls” and therefore excluded. Full-time employees are defined as those working at least 30 hours per week on average during the period of the survey.
Publication of the index comes just weeks after the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities released its levelling up white paper which outlined the government’s plans to target geographic inequalities. Critics have branded it “unambitious” and “lacking detail.”
Meanwhile, Greggs has warned customers they may have to work even harder for their sausage roll in the future, with a raft of price hikes expected later in the year.
InvestingReviews.co.uk CEO Simon Jones said:
Amid all the government’s talk of levelling up, a great divide still exists across Great Britain today with Greggs customers in some parts typically having to work 65% longer than Londoners just to be able to afford a sausage roll.
As the cost of living squeeze continues to intensify, Brits are going to have to work a lot harder in the future to afford life’s simple pleasures.
The government is going to have to take urgent action if their flagship policy doesn’t become a millstone around their neck.”
Check out where your town came in the Greggs Sausage Roll Index:
|Ranking||Location||Minutes worked per sausage roll|
|63||Stockton on Tees||04:14|
|58||Bath & N E Somerset||04:13|
|30||Newcastle upon Tyne||03:46|
|25||Perth & Kinross||03:39|
- We have adjusted up the April 2021 earnings data according to the latest available estimate from the ONS of regular pay growth of 4.0% in the three months to February 2022 as compared to a year earlier. We use regular pay growth to avoid distortions due to high but volatile bonuses in the financial services sector in particular. The 4% figure is an average across the whole of the country, with no local breakdown, so we assume the same rate of increase for all towns and cities. The precise increase assumed does not therefore affect the rankings of different places.
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