Fewer fun times as families feel the pinch of rising bills
FAMILIES are "spending less on fun" as they struggle to meet rising housing and heating costs, according to a new report.
Family Spending, the annual report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that in 2009 the average UK weekly household spend was 455, down from 471 in 2008.
Scots families spent 438.70 a week, down from about 440 two years ago. The figures show reduced spending on clothing, household goods and holidays during the recession last year.
The drop, the first since the current system of measuring was introduced in 2001-02, coincided with the global economic slowdown. The figures give an indication of the budget problem families faced at the time and the priorities they decided on.
Last night Lucy McTernan, Citizens Advice Scotland's chief executive, said the figures paint a "grim picture". She added: "Really they are confirming what we already know and CAB advisers are seeing it every day.
"Basic living costs are going up as incomes are falling, so people are struggling everywhere just to pay the essentials in life.
"There's not much left to spend on having fun. Only last week we saw the shocking figure that one third of Scots are living in fuel poverty because of huge hikes in energy bills.
"The worrying thing is that this situation is due to get even worse in the New Year, with VAT increases, more job losses and likely rises in interest rates and cuts to welfare benefits.
"CAB evidence shows that those worst hit are those already on the lowest incomes, and the government really must do more to help those people."
The findings of the survey are compiled through detailed diaries of spending kept by 6,000 households throughout the UK. The research showed average spending on transport was 58.40 in 2009, a fall of 8 per cent on the previous year.
Spending on recreation and culture also fell slightly to 57.90 from 60.10 in spite of higher spending on items such as leisure classes, sports admissions, cinemas, theatres and concerts.
Housing, fuel and power spending (which includes net rent, gas and electricity bills but not mortgages or council tax) increased to 57.30 from 53.00 in 2008.
But spending on clothing and footwear was 20.90 a week, slightly lower than the previous year (22) and continuing a long-term fall to the lowest figures recorded for nearly a decade.
Spending on household goods and services such as furniture and appliances also hit a long-term low, falling from 30.10 in 2008 to 27.90 in 2009.Giles Horsfield, ONS statistician and editor of the report, said higher expenditure on some housing related costs such as rent, electricity and gas was offset by lower spending on mortgages.
He added: "It's interesting to note that expenditure fell again on clothing which took it to a record low under current methods, for the third year in a row.
"Spending also fell on household goods and package holidays, but held up on sports admissions, cinema, theatre and concerts."
Nearly three-quarters of the 52.20 average weekly spend on food and non-alcoholic drink was bought from the large supermarket chains.
Mr Horsfield said it was difficult to say whether the fall in spending was caused by people buying less or falls in prices.
He said: "We don't collect information on the volume of items that we spend money on, as opposed to the prices. But there are a few pointers - on fuel there is evidence that prices went down in 2009."
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