A new report from the Office of National Statistics out today shows that, on average, each UK household last year spent or invested £900 more than they received in income.
But, as the ONS points out, according to its recent expenditure poverty analysis based on Living Costs and Food Survey data, the poorest 10% of households spent two-and-a-half times their disposable income, on average, in the financial year ending 2017. In contrast, the richest 10% spent less than half of their available income during the same period.
StepChange Debt Charity chief executive Phil Andrew commented: “It’s really unfortunate that this very useful data is so heavily sprinkled with the phrase that households are ‘living beyond their means’. The reality is that too many households, here in Britain, in 2018, simply cannot make ends meet, however hard they try. Not having enough money to make ends meet is not the same thing as living beyond your means – which implies you have a choice, when too many people do not.
“Our own recent analysis showed that the typical StepChange client spends, on average, 60% of their net monthly household income on essential household bills plus food – while among those on the lowest net household incomes (under £10,000), an average 93% of their monthly income is swallowed up by the basics, leaving basically nothing for other important items, let alone luxuries. So it is lack of choice, rather than poor choice, that explains why an estimated 9 million people last year turned to credit to meet household needs.
“As yesterday’s report from the Treasury Select Committee noted, many households are facing challenges that are putting pressure on the health and sustainability of their finances, and as the Committee said, the Government cannot pass the buck on this.”