Average UK Household Budget 2021

On average, UK households spend £588 per week (£2,548 a month) to cover living expenses including a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, clothes on our backs, and transport to and from work or school—but costs are higher if you rent or have a mortgage. We've analyzed data from the latest 2019/20 Living Costs and Food Survey from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in order to better understand average spending levels across these major categories, and more.

Depending on where you live, your stage of life, and your financial circumstances, you may also be spending extra on childcare, college tuition or health care. If you're hoping to make your budget stretch further, read about 10 ways to reduce your monthly expenses.

Note: The figures in this article come from the Office for National Statistics and reflect average spending across all households, combining households that do and do not spend on a given line item. As a result, you may notice that some figures don't accurately reflect the true cost for a user. If any particular line items jump out at you in this regard, please kindly let us know in the comments and we will try to address the limitations of the ONS data with further explanation, analysis or colour.

Average Household Budget in the UK

In 2020 the average UK household budget was £2,548 a month (£30,571 a year) based on an average of 2.4 people per household, according to the latest ONS Family Spending report. Compared to 2019, expenditures on household bills increased just 0.4% in 2020. But your housing situation can mean you spend a lot more or less.

Where does the typical household budget go? Brits spend the most on transportation, housing and food. In fact, 14% of our household budgets goes towards transportation, up to 30-35% towards rent or mortgage interest payments and 11% to feed ourselves. Here's how the average household budget breaks down by category, on a weekly, monthly and annual basis:

Average Household ExpendituresWeekly OutgoingsMonthly OutgoingsAnnual Outgoings% of Budget
Transport£81.60£354£4,24314%
Housing (e.g., rent, mortgage interest payments, repairs, etc.)£71.40£309£3,71312%
Rent/mortgage & repairs (average overall)£71£309£3,71312%
Owned outright (repairs and maintenance)£8£35£4161%
Social rented£103£446£5,35618%
Private rented£201£871£10,45234%
Own with a mortgage (including repairs)£177£768£9,21430%
Food and non-alcoholic drinks£63.70£276£3,31211%
Restaurants and hotels£52.90£229£2,7519%
Recreation and culture (e.g., pets, gym fees, TV, etc.)£47.30£205£2,4608%
Household (e.g., furniture, linens, appliances, etc.)£36.50£158£1,8986%
Utilities (water, gas, electric)£34.90£151£1,8156%
Package holidays£27.50£119£1,4305%
Clothing and footwear£23.40£101£1,2174%
Council Tax£26.00£113£1,3524%
Communications and TV/video services£26.10£113£1,3574%
Insurance£19.30£84£1,0043%
Personal (e.g., toiletries, jewellery, sunglasses, etc.)£17.60£76£9153%
Vices (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, etc.)£12.90£56£6712%
Money transfers and credit (e.g., cash gifts)£13.00£56£6762%
Holiday spending£12.10£52£6292%
Miscellaneous£5.20£23£2701%
Health£8.20£36£4261%
Education£4.50£20£2341%
Licences, fines and transfers (e.g., stamp duty, road tax)£3.80£16£1981%
Total Spending£587.90£2,548£30,571100%

Average Monthly Household Spending

The average UK household spends £2,548 a month on household bills—according to the average (and unlikely!) household size of 2.4 people. However this figure averages all households (including those with no rent or mortgage expenses)— housing costs would be lower for those owning a home outright and higher for those with a mortgage or renting, as you can see in the table and chart below (in green).

Chart showing average UK household spending on bills and expenditures
Approx. Average Monthly Budget, by household typeAverage Household (2.4 people)
Social Renters£2,685
Private Renters£3,109
Mortgage£3,197
Outright Homeowners£2,351
Average£2,548

Average Cost of UK Housing

The average UK household spends £7,000 on utilities, communications & TV services and other household operational and maintenance expenses like insurance and council tax, as well as household goods & services. In addition to this, many household spend on rent and mortgage payments. Of those renting, the average monthly rent in the UK is now £871 for private renters and £446 for social renters. The average spent on mortgage payments is around £733 a month.

A full breakdown of average housing expenses is illustrated in the chart below.

To see how much the average household spends on household goods & services like furniture, furnishings and appliances, please see our related article Who Spends the Most Making a House a Home? which breaks down how much we spend according to age.

Breakdown of UK Housing Costs per householdWeeklyMonthlyAnnual
Rent for Households Renting from Housing Association/Local Authority£103.00£446£5,356
Rent for Households Renting Privately£201.00£871£10,452
Mortgage Payments for Households with a Mortgage£169.20£733£8,798
Utilities (water, gas & electric)£34.90£151£1,815
Communications and TV/video services (internet, landline, TV subscriptions, etc.)£26.10£113£1,357
Household Goods & Services£36.50£158£1,898
Council Tax£26.00£113£1,352
Maintenance & Repairs (excl. capital improvements)£8.00£35£416
Home Insurance£4.90£21£255
Total Housing Costs per Social Renting Household£239.40£1,037£12,449
Total Housing Costs per Privately Renting Household£337.40£1,462£17,545
Total Housing Costs per Household with Mortgage£305.60£1,324£15,891
Total Housing Costs per Household Owning Outright£136.40£591£7,093
Chart showing the breakdown of average UK household housing expenses, by rent & mortgage, utilities, household expenses, maintenance, council tax, and insurance
Breakdown of UK Housing Costs

If you rent or pay a mortgage, total costs for a regular roof over your head typically eat up around 35-45% of an average UK household’s expenses, give or take. While the largest component of housing costs is rent or mortgage interest, a close second is the cost of utilities including internet, TV and phones. The cost of gas & electric used to be a household's largest utility expense, but the bills for communications and entertainment services topped those in 2020. The government push to encourage consumers to switch energy suppliers has helped keep these costs down, and more people paid for entertainment services in 2020 while home for lockdown.

Breakdown of Home Services & Utilities Costs per householdWeeklyMonthlyAnnual
Communications and TV/video services (TV Subscriptions, streaming services, landline and mobile phones, internet, etc.)£26.10£113£1,357
Electric & Gas£24.50£106£1,274
Water£10.40£45£541
Average Costs£61.00£264£3,172
Chart showing the breakdown of average UK household utilities expenses, by gas & electric, phones, water, and internet
Breakdown of UK Utilities Costs

Average UK Transportation Costs

The second largest cost for the average UK household, behind housing, is transport. We spend an average of £4,820 per year to get around, a minuscule increase from 2019.

The largest component of our travel budget is operating our personal vehicles. We spend just over £1,100 a year on petrol & diesel per household, and the typical cost of car insurance per household (not per car) is £572 per year. The used car market is hot—we spend nearly twice as much money buying used cars than we do on new! On a per-car basis, households spend about £3,100 a year on car running costs, per vehicle.

The average amount spent on public transport is around £1,100 year (£94 a month), which is primarily spent on bus, train and tube rides and international airfare (around £359 per year/£29.90 a month spent across each category).

Breakdown of Average UK Transportation Costs per householdWeeklyMonthlyAnnual
Purchase of Vehicles£26.30£114£1,368
Petrol & Diesel£22.30£97£1,160
Public Transport£21.70£94£1,128
Vehicle Operation Expenses£11.40£49£593
Insurance£11.00£48£572
Average Annual Transportation Costs per Household£92.70£402£4,820
Chart showing breakdown of average UK household transportation costs, including purchase, petrol & diesel, insurance, public transport, etc.
Breakdown of Average UK Transport Costs

Average UK Food Costs

The third largest household budget category is food. The average UK household spends £3,312 a year on groceries and non-alcoholic drinks at home. Another £484 is spent on alcohol (mostly wine) for consumption at home. Eating and drinking out consumes a further £2,132 from our household budgets. All in, food and drink consume 19% of our total annual budgets, and food prices in the UK have been rising around +2% a year.

While food is, of course, a necessity for life, it’s often considered a fungible category in a household budget. After all, a family could dine on spaghetti with a touch of homemade bolognese, for a low cost meal. Or they could go out to a London hot spot and drop a hundred pounds or more on one dinner.

To gauge a basic minimum for food costs, we can look at the budgets of our poorest households, who are presumably eating as cheaply as they can. Households with disposable incomes less than £11,000 per year still spend about £2,800 annually on food and alcoholic drinks in total. They eat at home more often, spending around 75% of their food & drink budget for consumption at home, with a quarter of the budget spent out of the house. The highest earning households, those with more than £72,000 of annual disposable incomes, spend £11,000 on food & drinks each year, with nearly half (44%) of the budget spent dining out. For more details, see our related articles Average Annual UK Food Spending and Average Alcohol Spending in the UK.

Average Savings UK

Now that you've spent money on living expenses, what do you do with any leftover money? Save! The typical UK household saves £180 per month—this represents the median amount saved each month. That means that 50% of households save less than £180 a month and 50% of households save more.

The average savings per month UK is £450 per household. This figure is higher than the median figure due to a small number of households with very high savings rates. For example, households in the top quintile of income save an average of £1,817 each month. In contrast, the bottom quintile of earners saves -£352 a month.

How much do UK households save each month?
Median (50% of households save more than this, 50% save less)£180
Mean (average)£450
Chart showing average household savings per month UK

For more information on household savings and wealth, see our new study Average Household Savings & Wealth UK.

Budgeting

The first step to making a household budget stretch further is arguably understanding where your money is currently going. Once you see what is being spent where, you'll be better able to find areas of your budget that might have some flexibility. For example, if you spend a high proportion of your food budget on takeaways you could limit these to a treat once a week, cooking at home the rest of the time to save money.

To understand your finances you can sit down with pen and paper and go through your bank statements and credit card bills once a month. Alternatively, there are a number of handy tech resources at our disposal these days. For example, Money Dashboard is a personal finance app where you can easily view all your accounts and track your spending by category—it's rated 4.9 out of 5 stars by existing customers and is free to use.

Note: Updated in May 2020 to reflect the most recent Living Costs and Food Survey from the ONS.

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