According to the latest findings published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the amount of money that households spend on energy and rent now outweighs transport, food and going out, all of which had previously cost more.
The cost of gas, electricity and rent for the average household in the UK in 2012, according to the ONS figures, was £68 per week. This is marks a substantial increase compared to the £62.80 in 2006.
Rent and energy spend hits £68 per week
In contrast, during the same six year period, the amount of money that was spent on transport fell from £81.30 to £64.10, below the cost of housing and energy bills for the first time.
Giles Horsfield, editor of the Family Spending Report, said: “What we can see are some very complex trends on what people chose to spend their money on, and what people feel they have to spend their money on.
“Households have found ways of using less fuel, selecting more fuel efficient cars and cutting out non-essential journeys.”
With energy prices and rent being the only expenditure to rise at a time when the general spending of families has gone down over the last six years, the recent price rises announced by the big six will be particularly worrying for households.
Each of the biggest providers announced in the past few weeks that they will be increasing what they charge their customers over the course of the next year, with consumers facing rises of 3% – 10%.
Labour: Energy bills main reason for struggle
In reaction to the latest findings, the Labour party has moved to criticise the government for failing to take control of price rises in the energy market.
Caroline Flint, Labour’s shadow energy secretary, said of the new data: “Soaring energy bills are one of the main reasons people are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, but David Cameron has failed to stand up to the energy companies and stop them overcharging.”
Catherine McKinnell, the party’s shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, added: “After three damaging years of flatlining working people are worse off under the Tories. But the Autumn Statement failed to set out a serious plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and earn our way to higher living standards for the many and not just a few.
“Labour would freeze energy bills until 2017 while we reform the energy market, make work pay by expanding free childcare for working parents and get at least 200,000 homes built a year by 2020.”