23% of spending on housing costs

GasAlmost a quarter of low income families' regular spending was swallowed up by housing-related costs last year, official figures have shown.

Stark differences in family spending were highlighted in the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) figures, which showed that the 10% of households with the lowest incomes spent 23% of their weekly outgoings on housing, fuel and power.

A further 16% of low income families' money went on food and non-alcoholic drinks - representing around double the share spent by the highest income families - said the ONS.

Families with the highest 10% of incomes spent 8% of their regular outgoings on each of these spending categories. Those with the highest incomes spent 14% of their outgoings on recreation and culture, compared with 10% for families on lower incomes.

Differences in income also had a strong bearing on whether families had internet access at home. Just four out of 10 (41%) low income families had the internet at home, compared with 99% of the highest income households.

Across the UK, families typically spent £470.70 a week for the years 2009-11 combined, although some strong variations were seen across the country.

London was named as the region with the highest average spending, at £574.90 a week. This was driven by high housing and fuel costs, which at just over £90 a week were £30 a week higher than the national average. Weekly spending was lowest among households in the North East at £384.20, Wales at £398.20 and Yorkshire and the Humber at £410.10.

Meanwhile, people living in the countryside spent over £50 a week more than those living in towns and cities, mainly driven by higher transport and recreation costs. Households in rural areas spent £510.50 a week on average, including just over £77 on transport and almost £69 on recreation and culture.

Families in urban areas spent around £458.30 each week, with transport costs taking up just under £59 on average and around £57 on recreation and culture. However, people living in urban areas tended to have higher fuel and power costs, at around £61 a week, compared with around £58.

Spending also varied widely according to the age of the householder, with those aged between 30 and 49 spending an average of £580.20 a week, compared with people aged over 75 who had the lowest average weekly household expenditure, at £272.60.
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