UK disposable income drops nearly a quarter in last 12 months

Britons' disposable income has fallen by almost a quarter since last year as consumers spend more of their earnings on bills, groceries and housing, a survey suggests.

The average consumer's disposable income has fallen from £426 to £326 a month in the last 12 months, a drop of 23%, according to the annual cost of living life barometer.

The amount is in sharp contrast with the average £471 a month Britons predicted they would have available to spend on non-essentials at the start of the year.

Total pay in real terms sank by 0.7% in the three months to May in contrast to last year, and fell by 0.5% excluding bonuses for the period, according to ONS figures published last week.

The research found 18 to 34-year-olds currently have £325 spare cash to spend at the end of each month after paying for bills, rent and other essentials compared with last year's average of £456.

Over 55's have also seen a drop from £425 last year to £322, the poll found.

Men still enjoy a larger disposable income with £370 a month to spare - 28% more than women who have just £288 left in their accounts after paying bills, although this appears to be closing from last year's gap of 32%.

Britons appear to be spending more cautiously than last year, with annual expenditure on holidays and social outings including dinners out, clubbing and trips to the cinema falling, while spending on activities that can be done at home such as Netflix subscriptions, mobile phone apps and gambling is increasing.

Meanwhile spending on apps for mobile phones and tablets is up by 227% on last year, while consumers are spending 215% more on gambling, the report said.

Anita Naik, lifestyle editor at, said: "The cost of living and enjoying life in modern day Britain is changing.

"With wage growth lagging behind inflation and essentials such as utility bills and food prices on the up for many parts of the UK, Britons are having to spend with caution when it comes to non-essentials."

:: Opinium surveyed 2,002 UK adults online between June 23 and 27.