Poorest households 'spend more than half of income on bills'

The UK's poorest households are spending twice as much of their incomes on essential bills than the average, according to research by Santander.

While the average UK household spends around 23% of monthly earnings on essential bills such as utilities (gas and electricity), council tax, food and fuel, this goes up to 56% for households earning less than £14,000 a year.

An expert at debt management company Gregory Pennington said: "These findings highlight the fact that while poorer households may be able to buy cheaper food or accommodation, basic living costs like energy and water cost more or less the same regardless of circumstances. They are subject to the same price rises as everyone else, but for poorer households it can land them in serious financial difficulty.

"In some cases, poorer households are left to choose between turning on the heating or going hungry."

More positively, nearly half of people surveyed said that rising living costs over the last year has made them more financially aware.

Households spend 23.4% of their incomes on household bills, on average. This falls to 22.8% for couples who share the strain, but for couples with children it increases to 25.6%. Single-parent households pay 25.4% of their earnings towards bills.

Food shopping is by far the biggest expense for households, taking up 9.7% of average monthly earnings. This is followed by council tax (3.6%) and petrol or diesel (3.2%).

Joel Stanier

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