20 February 2015

How household spending has changed over a decade

While it can feel like prices climb steadily higher year on year, our household spending has actually gone down over the last 12 years, according to the Office of National Statistics. The amount the average UK household spends each week decreased to £517 in 2013 from £539 in 2001/2 - even with inflation taken into account.

So what are we spending our money on? And which part of the UK is spending the most? Looking at spending across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, from single-person households to big families, the ONS has tracked our weekly outgoings in detail.

Household spending by country

The UK's different regions spend different amounts on household items, as these ONS figures from 2011-2013* show:

  • London had the highest average household spending at £579.60 per week
  • The North East had the lowest average household spending at £424.60 per week
Infographic of household spending

Our homes

The money we spend on our homes has overtaken transport to become the UK's biggest household expense. Rent and utilities cost us on average £74.40 each week* in 2013, according to the ONS. Mortgage costs are excluded from the figures, but they do include repairs and maintenance for your central heating and plumbing systems, water bills, and even the cost of wallpaper and skip hire. 


This is the second biggest item in household spending with an average of £70.40 per week*, and it previously topped the table. This category is quite broad, extending to air fares, driving lessons and breakdown cover. 

The major spending areas include:

  • Buying a vehicle: average £21.10 per week
  • Public transport and other transport services: average £15.30 per week
  • Running a vehicle: average £34 of which £23.30 is spent on diesel and petrol each week

Rail fares are still on the up, but in January 2015 have risen only 2.2%, which is the smallest hike in the last 5 years. Meanwhile, crude oil costs tumbled to a 6-year low in January 2015.

Recreation and culture

Televisions, computers, newspapers, books, leisure activities and package holidays make up the third largest area of household spending with an average of £63.90* per week. As well as the expected costs like TV, cinema, pet care and nights out, this category includes costs as varied as film for non-digital cameras, pot pourri, and even the cost of buying a horse.

*Sources: December 2014 data from the Office for National Statistics.

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