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Transport spending for homes no longer top priority

Household spending on housing, fuel and power has overtaken transport for the first time in recent years.

Households spent an average of £68 a week last year on the category, which includes rent, fuel, electricity and maintenance, but excludes mortgages, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The category required the highest spending by households, a rise likely to have been driven by increases in electricity and gas prices and an area where "there may be limited scope for many households to reduce consumption", the ONS added. The cold winters of 2011 and 2012 also contributed to spending on heating.

The proportion of households renting has also risen in recent years, from 29% to 34%. This was in contrast to the general trend as most types of spending stayed relatively stable or decreased slightly over the period.

The latest Family Spending data shows that UK households spent £489 on average per week in 2012.

Adjusted for inflation, average spending has decreased since 2006 when households spent £526.40.

Transport has seen the biggest spending reduction taking inflation into account, falling from £87.10 per week in 2001/2002 to £64.10 in 2012 despite the price of petrol rising significantly over this period.

The ONS said it was likely motorists had responded to rises in fuel price by reducing journeys, while noting that spending on petrol (£16.40) combined with diesel (£8.20) accounted for almost two-fifths of transport costs.

It said fuel efficiency of vehicles had also improved and diesel engines had become more popular, enabling motorists to offset the impact of rising prices.

Average weekly spending on food and non-alcoholic drinks in 2012 was £56.80: £15 on meat and fish, £4.20 on fresh vegetables and £3.20 on fresh fruit.

Spending on clothing and footwear increased from £15.30 per week in 2001/2002 to £23.40 in 2012, adjusted for inflation, despite the overall drop in the price of clothing.

Spending on hotels and restaurants decreased from £47.50 per week in 2001/2002 to £40.50 in 2012, and spending on household goods and services also decreased from £35.70 to £28.50.

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