Cost of running a home rises again

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The Independent Online

The cost of running a home has risen to its highest level since 2008 on the back of soaring utility bills, research indicated today.

The annual costs associated with owning and running a property have jumped by an average of £127 or 1.4% during the past year to stand at £9,083, according to Halifax.

Homeowners have seen increases in nine out of the 11 expenditure categories that the group measures, but the biggest rise has been in gas and electricity bills, with hikes to these accounting for £68 of the total increase.

Utility bills have jumped by 20% or £237 since 2008, the largest rise for any of the expenditure categories, followed by a 17% or £99 hike in the cost of maintaining and repairing a home.

But record low interest rates have helped the cost of mortgage repayments fall by 21% or an average of £956 a year since 2008.

Mortgage repayments are the only category of housing expenses that have dropped during the past three years, while they declined by 2% during the past year.

The fall reduced the proportion of total expenditure that goes on mortgage payments from 48% in March 2008 to just 39% now.

Suren Thiru, housing economist at Halifax, said: "Household finances remain under pressure, with the significant drop in mortgage payments since 2008 mostly offset by increases in other household bills.

"Rising utility bills have been a clear driver behind this, along with increases in maintenance costs and council tax charges.

"The current strain on household finances is particularly concerning at a time when earnings growth remains weak."

The cost of owning and running a home has risen in all regions of the UK during the past year, with Yorkshire and the Humber and the South West seeing the biggest increase of 1.3%, followed by the North East and North West at 1.2%.

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