Cost of energy hits family budgets, says ONS

Image caption Families have been hit by rising energy bills, says the ONS

The increased cost of energy has helped make housing the most expensive part of the family budget, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said housing expenses overtook transport as the biggest part of household spending in 2012.

Housing includes rent, fuel, electricity and maintenance, but excludes mortgages.

On average, UK households spent £68 a week on housing and £64 on transport.

In 2011, transport was the largest element in family budgets.

The ONS said the rise was likely to have been driven in part by rises in gas and electricity prices.

It said the cold winters of 2011 and 2012 would have contributed to extra spending on heating.

But it said a rise in the proportion of people renting their homes was also a factor.

In all, 34% of homes were rented in 2012, compared with 29% in earlier years.

Greater economy

The cost of transport has been the biggest spending reduction.

Once inflation is taken into account, spending on transport fell from £87 a week in 2001 to £64 last year.

That is in spite of an increase in petrol prices.

The ONS said it was likely that motorists had responded to such increases by reducing their journeys.

It said the fuel efficiency of cars had improved over that period, while the popularity of more economic diesel engines had also risen.

Unsurprisingly, households have cut back on recreation and culture. In 2011 we spent £64 a week on TV's, computers, books and holidays.

But in 2012 that fell to £61.50.

Clothes and shoes

The figures also show that households still spend more on leisure than on food.

Weekly groceries and non-alcoholic drinks cost families £56.80 in 2012, marginally up from £56.60 in 2011.

In the long run, we are also spending substantially more on clothes and shoes.

In 2001 we spent £15.30 a week on fashion items, a figure which had increased to £23.40 in 2012.

In total, the average household spent £489 a week last year.

When adjusted for inflation, spending has decreased since 2006, when households spent £526.

The ONS said the fall was consistent with trends seen in the economy during the period.

Economic output, as measured by GDP, fell by 7.2% between 2008 and 2009.

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