Soaring energy prices and a rush to the rental market have helped make housing the most expensive part of the weekly family budget for the first time ever, according to new figures.
According to new data released by the Office for National Statistics UK households now spent £68 a week on housing, making it the largest weekly outgoing for families ahead of transport and recreation
The Family Spending 2012 reported showed that British households now spend £8.80 a week more on housing, fuel and power, which excludes other costs such as mortgage repayments and home insurance, than they did in 2001.
In total the average weekly household spend was £489 last year, following a pattern of gradual decline in spending since 2006, when the weekly spend was £526.40.
According to the Giles Horsfield, the editor the ONS report, the housing and energy rise was the “most striking” element of the data and can be attributed to rises in energy prices and a rise in the proportion of people renting their homes.
Mr Horsfield added that figures showed household expenditure on rent and energy had gone from 9 per cent of an average household’s weekly spent to 14 per cent in the last year, at the same time as gross weekly earnings had fallen 1.7 per cent.
Spending on transport - the second biggest outlay - is now £64.10 compared to £79.70 in 2006. Mr Horsfield said one explanation is that “households have responded to increases in fuel prices by cutting on non-essential journeys and switching to more fuel efficient cars.”