Family spending dropped in 2009, ONS says

Wallet, money and bills
Image caption Lower mortgage costs helped to offset higher bills for gas, electricity and rent

The recession led to a fall in family spending in 2009, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests.

It said the average household spent £455 a week last year, down from £471 a week in 2008.

It was the first fall recorded by the ONS's survey in the past 10 years.

The three largest categories of spending were transport, recreation and culture, and housing, fuel and power, with spending in each sector dropping during the year.

"This is the first annual decline in average UK household spend since the current method of recording was introduced in 2001-02, with higher expenditure on some housing related costs such as rent, electricity and gas offset by lower spending on mortgages," said Giles Horsfield, the editor of the ONS report.

"Lower spending on diesel and fuel contributed to lower expenditure on transport, but reductions were also seen on vehicle purchases and public transport."

Town v country

The BBC revealed in September last year that the recession had knocked £815bn off the UK's household wealth in 2008 alone.

The UK economy was still in recession for most of the next year and only started growing again in the last three months of 2009.

Unemployment also rose sharply in the first half of last year to reach its recent peak of nearly 2.5 million.

Although family spending on package holidays fell, particularly for those abroad, expenditure on going to sports events, the cinema, theatre and concerts was steady.

The five regions where family spending was above the national average were London, the South East of England, the East of England, Northern Ireland and the South West.

Rural family expenditure was higher, at £500 per week, than in urban areas, at £450.20 per week, due to higher spending on transport, recreation and culture.

However, families in urban areas spent slightly more than those in the country on housing costs, fuel and power.

The long-term fall in spending on clothes and shoes, and household goods and services, continued.

Both hit their lowest levels yet recorded under the current methodology of the ONS, at £20.90 per week and £27.90 per week respectively.

The data on family spending comes from the ONS's survey of the spending habits of 5,223 households who took part in its living costs and food survey.

The survey has been running, in various forms, since the 1950s.

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