38% of families hit by 'transport poverty'

Is it meals or wheels? Rising fuel and car costs and railway fares means many UK households are cutting back anywhere they can - including food costs.

It's thought more than 8m Brits are now officially in 'transport poverty' - that's the tag for anyone spending more than 10% of their wages on transport costs.

Fuel for thought

Like yourself? It could be if you live in the countryside, are young earning a modest income or are retired. Based on Office of National Statistics Family Spending figures from 2010, the AA claims that it now costs more to fill up a modest-sized car - at least £70, and more in many cases - than it does to feed a family for a week.

And it's thought that 2.25m Brit households now spend more than 25% of their income on travel expenses. For some, transport costs are now their biggest monthly outlay.

It's not just about filling up the car. Above-inflation rail fare increases in 2012 of almost 6% have knocked spending power back. Meanwhile George Osborne is mulling the idea of road tolls.

Hard-done by?

What is astonishing is the speed at which trasnport poverty has affected many in the UK. The government's own figures acknowledge fuel poverty doubled between 2004 and 2007 alone.

The RAC Foundation claims that the high cost of transport should however not leave Brits feeling hard-done by compared to Europe. Several European countries now have higher petrol prices than the UK, it says, even though many are in the midst of a severe economic downturn.

"Denmark has the highest petrol price (£1.59 per litre) followed by the Netherlands and Italy (both £1.58), Greece (£1.56) and Sweden (£1.51). Portugal, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany and Ireland also have higher prices than the UK which is at number 12 in the list." (See figures below).

More costs to come

Meanwhile some councils - like Nottingham - are now taxing businesses if more than 11 or more employees park on their own employer's business premises. The scheme will see all businesses charged £288 per space in the current year, rising to £381 from 1 April 2015.

And who, do you think, will pay these costs?

Figures from the RAC Foundation

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