British Families Suffering In Economic Squeeze

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recesionA damning report last May  revealed that the British families are feeling spare cash ‘strains’

Families have suffered the worst deterioration in their spending power in 12 months or more  due to a sharp decline in wage growth, leading to a fall in good standard of living.

Households had £155 a week of discretionary income in April, marking two months of annual declines in a row, Asda’s latest income tracker found.

The report uses official figures to work out a family’s spending power, which is the money they have left over after essential bills, such as groceries, fuel, mortgage interest payments and rent, for leisure or non-essential activities.

Prolonged spells of cold weather upping household utility costs and continued difficult economic conditions have left many Scots struggling to pay the bills.

The recent worsening trend follows a series of improvements to people’s finances that had been recorded over the last year. Families are now £1 a week worse off than the same month last year and have £10 a week less than they did during a peak in February 2010, the report said.

Weak income growth was the “primary driver” behind many families’ budgets taking a turn for the worse, with wage growth falling at the fastest rate since the start of the economic crisis.

Average pay rose just 0.8 per cent over the year to April, marking the lowest rise since comparable figures began in 2001.

British Families Suffering In  Economic Squeeze-Household expenditure makes up about 60 per cent of Scottish GDP, and during 2011 Scottish households consumed around £73 billion of goods and services. The cost of utilities such as electricity and gas played a key role in the decline in people’s budgets, as gas prices rose 8.3 per cent year-on-year, marking the highest rate since August 2012.

In the last year, Shelter Scotland has seen a 44 per cent increase in homeowners calling for advice on their homes being repossessed after becoming unable to meet their housing costs.

Food prices across the UK have risen by nearly 40 per cent since 2007, while businesses and consumers have also had to endure the impact of rising oil and commodity prices, a weakening pound and hikes to VAT in recent years. There was some good news for motorists, however, as fuel costs fell by 3.7 per cent year-on-year.

The overall cost of transport saw a 0.1 per cent annual decline, marking the first year-on-year drop since July 2009.

Employment in Scotland increased by 54,000 between January and March this year, which the Scottish Government has hailed as the largest quarterly rise since figures began in 1992.

However, there was a rise in the amount of jobless Scots claiming jobseeker’s allowance.

Last month, retail sales were down 2.1 per cent compared to April last year, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).

Fiona Moriarty, director of SRC, said that while the figures did not reflect it, there were “tentative signs” that consumer confidence was starting to lift.

It is hoped Scottish households will benefit from the raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 from next April, which will take a quarter of a million Scots out of income tax altogether, and cut it by £700 for more than two million others

888After paying essential bills, the average household now has just £155 left over in spare cash each week.

Families are now £1 a week  worse off than the same month last year and have £10 a week less than they did during a peak in February 2010, the report said.

Weak income growth was the “primary driver” behind people’s budgets taking a turn for the worse, with wage growth falling at the fastest rate since the start of the economic crisis, the report said.

Employment prospects have weakened and average pay rose to just 0.8% over the year to April, marking the lowest rise since comparable figures began in 2001.

The cost of utilities such as electricity and gas was also a strong factor behind the decline in people’s budgets, with gas prices up 8.3% year-on-year, marking the highest rate since August 2012.

There was some good news for motorists, however, as fuel costs fell by 3.7% year-on-year.

The overall cost of transport saw a 0.1% annual decline, marking the first year-on-year drop since July 2009.

Rob Habron, economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), which compiles the report, said: “A higher tax free personal allowance and lower inflation on some essentials, such as petrol, have helped this month to ease the stress on household finances.

“However, ongoing very slow wage growth and high unemployment are preventing any real gains to discretionary spending power.

“The squeeze on household incomes has returned in 2013 despite the gradually improving economy.”

The report uses official figures to work out a family’s spending power, which is the money they have left over after essential bills such as groceries, fuel, mortgage interest payments and rent.