Families need £25,000 just to break even

Nia Williams

November 15, 2012

The mind-boggling figure is an increase of £129.35 on last year’s cost of living, which came in at an already staggering £24,672.16.

The figure consists of mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, food shopping and motoring, plus the cost of dressing the family, owning a mobile phone and landline, travelling to and from work and maintaining a property. However the sum excludes any luxuries whatsoever – such as takeaways, restaurant meals, night outs, weekends away or holidays.

Andrew Barker, managing director of Skipton Financial Services, said: “It is easy to understand why the large majority of Brits are so cash strapped. While there has been some change in spending habits this year compared to last, families are still paying out almost as much money on the food shopping as they are on their mortgage payments.

“Don’t forget that £24,801.51 is the figure UK families need to bring home so, once income tax and national insurance has been taken into account, a basic rate taxpayer would actually have to earn well over £30,000.”

The study, which analysed the spending habits of 2,000 UK parents with at least two children living under the same roof, found the following to be the biggest costs:

  • Mortgage repayments which average £4,515 a year – down £215 from last year.
  • The weekly food shop total isn’t far behind – averaging £86 a week or £4,491 a year – up £33.
  • Paying off credit card bills and loans make up another £2,906 a year – down £225.
  • Commuting to and from work adds another £2,672 strain on a family’s finances – up £216.
  • Filling up the car with petrol comes to £51 a week, or £2,668 a year – up £215. Other car costs include an average £931 spent on car insurance, taxing the vehicle and roadside assistance – down £17.
  • Utility bills emerged as £1,283 for the year – the same as in 2011.
  • Another £1,178 goes on council tax – down £39.
  • The cost of Sky or cable TV subscriptions plus the TV licence total £654 – up £77.
  • Other payments which have gone up over the past year include home insurance (up £11 to £443 a year) and mobile phone bills (up £27 to £395 a year).

Barker added: “When we first carried out this research last year, we knew that people were feeling the pinch, with inflation riding high at 5% and savings accounts paying rock-bottom rates. However even we were surprised that families needed to bring home almost £25,000 just to stand still.

“Unfortunately, despite inflation now nearer to the Government’s 2% target, many families are still in exactly the same position as a year ago, with almost 60% saying they have less disposable income than last year.

“Given this it is maybe not surprising, but nevertheless still worrying, that a third of respondents say they do not have a savings account and, of those that do, only one in five are managing to save more each month than last year.

“It seems that there is no end in sight for many families, with six out of 10 believing they’ll end up paying out even more money on bills next year and with only one in 10 expecting to be less cash strapped in 2013 than in 2012.”

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