Transport is now the single biggest area of expense for UK households

I know, I can’t quite believe it either. In fact I have read the statistics from the RAC over and over again and I still can’t believe it!

Apparently, the single biggest item of household expenditure in the UK is now transport. 

Forget the four million households we keep hearing about that spend more than 10% of their income in order to keep warm. That pails into insignificance compared with the 21 million households  which spend more than 10% of their income on transport (that figure includes households both with and without a car!).

The RAC say that an estimated four fifths of the UK’s 26 million households are in what could be described as ‘transport poverty’.

The latest figures show that when all households (with and without a car) are divided into five equal groups according to income, then in the:

  • lowest-earning quintile: 9% of expenditure goes on transport
  • second quintile: 11.5%
  • third quintile: 13%
  • fourth quintile: 14.5%
  • highest earning quintile: 15.5%

Conclusion: Out of average expenditure of £473.60 in both car and non-car owning households expenditure, £64.90 (14%) goes on transport, making it the single biggest area of expense.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“The situation is even starker when you look only at those homes which have a car or van. In these cases, the poorest fifth of households are spending at least 17% of income on a vehicle – leaving aside anything extra that goes on public transport.

“Just like heating our homes, most of us have to spend money on transport. There is no choice. While savings can be made at the margins by making fewer journeys and combining those which are essential, people have no option other than to go to work, visit the supermarket, see the doctor and take the children to school. That means paying for transport.

“The public finances are a matter for the Chancellor, but when he makes decisions about the rate of fuel duty he must be aware of their impact on the 34 million people who drive. It is true the cost of buying a car has fallen over recent years, but the cost of running one has soared. While most people can delay replacing their vehicle they have little or no choice about filling it with fuel, getting it taxed and insured, and keeping it maintained.”

According to the Office of National Statistics’ Family Spending Survey 2011 edition 75% of households have at least one car or van.

Our interest at Safer Motorways is that when money is short, savings are made by buying older cars, having fewer services and paying less attention to issues that affect safety.

Consider the following statistics for the UK:

  1. One in six British drivers did not have an MOT for their vehicle.
  2. 12 per cent of all cars and vans have at least one defective tyre.
  3. Poor maintenance of vehicles means that an unbelievable 75% of all tyres are under-inflated tyres.

The continued cost pressure for motorists is bound to result in more accidents on UK roads. If the government is serious about its pledge to improve road safety surely it should consider the real impact of a 60% tax burden on petrol and where that money is being spent.