Transport is top expense for Scottish households

TRANSPORT was the most costly part of the family budget in Scotland last year with spending in that area higher than housing, fuel and power, data on household expenditure has revealed.

Household spending in Scotland remains highest for transport costs, new figures show. Picture: TSPL

Spending in that category was the highest for Scots, despite housing overtaking transport as the most expensive part of the household budget for the UK as a whole.

The average weekly household spend on transport in Scotland was £61.80, compared to £54.20 for housing, fuel and power, the family data spend for 2010-12 showed.

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However, in the UK as a whole, households spent an average of £68 a week on housing, which includes rent, fuel, electricity and maintenance but excludes mortgages.

Transport costs in the UK stood at £64.10 between 2010 and 2012, with the price of petrol increasing substantially during that period, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The latest family spending data shows that UK households spent £489 on average per week in 2012, while the figure for Scotland was £437.30.

SNP MSP John Wilson said the findings showed the Scottish Parliament needed the full economic powers of an independent nation to boost incomes and tackle rising prices.

He said: “The Scottish Government within its powers has endeavoured to introduce measures as part of its social wage agenda such as concessionary bus travel and free prescriptions.

“However, the Scottish Government is hampered by not having full fiscal powers over many areas that impact so dramatically on the incomes of Scots.”

Meanwhile, the ONS said Scotland had Britain’s second-highest weekly household spend on alcohol, tobacco and drugs at £14.30 compared to a UK figure of £12.10. Only Northern Ireland had a higher spend at £16.10.

The average weekly household spend on food and non-alcoholic drinks was £53.20 in Scotland, compared to £56.80 for the UK as a whole, the ONS report showed.

Scots families spent a weekly average of £23.50 on clothing and footwear, £26.90 for household goods, £53.70 on recreation and culture, and £36.80 for restaurants and hotels.

Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said the figures showed the Scottish Government had failed to tackle rising transport and housing costs.

Mr Johnstone said: “The main issue is that distances are greater in many cases in Scotland, so part of this is inevitable.

“But the Scottish Government does need to address particular issues such as the cost of bus travel, which has been made worse by the determination of ministers to stick to concessionary bus travel.

“There is also an issue with high housing costs, particularly in rural areas. But the Scottish government has squeezed the budgets for social and affordable housing.”

A spokesman from Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland said that the ONS report showed “the Scottish Government’s transport policies are working for the people of Scotland, with the average weekly household transport costs in Scotland lower than the average for the UK as a whole”.

The UK-wide figures showed that spending on clothing and footwear increased from £15.30 per week in 2001-2002 to £23.40 in 2012. Household spending on recreation and culture, including televisions, computers, newspapers, books and leisure activities, came in at an average weekly amount of £61.50.