FAMILIES’ weekly spending in the North East rose to around £384.20 a week last year – but it is still the lowest in the country.
Spending in the region increased by around £12 last year, according to new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), though the region easily had the lowest weekly spend in the UK.
The biggest costs were taken up by recreation and culture, which rose to £50.50, up £3.10 from the previous year. Transport was the next highest spend at £50.10, a rise of £1 from the year before.
Weekly costs of food and non-alcoholic drinks in the North East rose by £1 to £44.70, although alcohol and tobacco only went up 90p, the survey showed.
The North East had the lowest weekly spend in nine areas in the survey, including housing and fuel and power at £46.20, well below the English average of £61.80.
The survey also showed the difference in rural and urban spending, with people in the countryside spending more on food and drink, and also £20 more a week on transport, but less on housing and clothes.
Giles Horsfield, editor of the ONS report, said: “The figures reflect the increase in the price of petrol and diesel in 2011. For a lot of households, that kind of expenditure is considered essential.
“There was increased spending on some items which people considered vital and spending went down in areas where people felt they had a bit of discretion.”
Nationally, households typically spent around £483.60 a week on their regular outgoings, representing a £10-a-week increase compared with 2010, and the highest average expenditure recorded by the ONS’s annual Family Spending report series.
The report showed how people have cut back their spending on new cars, clothing and furniture as costs for other “vital“ outgoings such as rent and household fuels have increased.
Almost a quarter of low income families’ regular spending was swallowed up by housing-related costs last year.
Stark differences in family spending were also highlighted in the figures, which showed that the 10% of households with the lowest incomes spent 23% of their weekly outgoings on housing, fuel and power.
The report comes in the same week that Which? estimated that more than 10 million households are feeling financially squeezed, and almost one in 10 have defaulted on a loan, bill or housing costs.