Simon Read: help us George, consumers say ahead of budget

 

The cost of household bills has soared by a quarter in the past five years, according to research by uSwitch.

Ahead of next Wednesday's Budget, the comparison site looked at essentials to see how much they've risen and, for anyone who's found their finances a little tighter since the recession, the results will come as no surprise.

But I'd like to draw their attention to George Osborne before he signs off on any new plans he has to hit ordinary people's finances even harder in 2013-14. I'd hope that rather than seeking new ways to squeeze people, he'd look at those who have suffered the most financially since 2008 and think about easing their pain.

For instance, car insurance costs have climbed the most in the last half-decade, soaring 67 per cent, but the cost of heating and lighting your home isn't far behind, with gas up 52 per cent and electricity 32 per cent.

Petrol has risen 33 per cent over the period, but is set to rise sharply soon with the AA predicting that pump prices could hit their highest-ever level by Easter.

The increases have left the majority of consumers more worried about rising living costs than their health, according to a survey by the comparison site.

But, interestingly pay – for those lucky folk that have had increases – has gone up by just 6 per cent over the same period. However, in real terms, wages have fallen back to 2003 levels.

So what can the Chancellor learn from these figures? According to uSwitch's survey, consumers want Osborne to put tackling rising utility bills as his top priority, closely followed by petrol prices. They also urge him to stimulate economic growth and sort out the benefits system. Will he listen?

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