The average UK household spends £529 per week for expenses including a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, clothes on our backs, and transport to and from work or school. We've analyzed data from the latest 2017/18 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 healthcare. For an analysis of how spending changed between 2016 and 2017, please see our article Household Budget Winners and Loser in 2017: Transport, Household Goods, Restaurants & Hotels and Education. And if you're hoping to make your budget stretch further, read about 10 ways to reduce your monthly expenses.
Average Household Budget in the UK
The median disposable household income in the UK was £27,300 in 2016, according to the latest data available from the ONS. How do households spend this money? According to data from the ONS Family Spending report, Brits spend the most on transportation, housing and food. In fact, 14% of our household budgets goes towards transportation, 11% to rent or mortgage interest and 10% to feed ourselves. Here's how the average household budget breaks down:
|Expenditure Category||Weekly Household Spend||Annual Household Spend||% of Budget|
|Transport (not including insurance)||£80.80||£4,202||14%|
|Housing (e.g., rent, mortgage interest payments, repairs, etc.)||£66.20||£3,442||12%|
|Food and non-alcoholic drinks||£60.60||£3,151||11%|
|Restaurants and hotels||£49.60||£2,579||9%|
|Recreation and culture (e.g., pets, gym fees, TV, etc.)||£47.70||£2,480||8%|
|Household (e.g., furniture, linens, appliances, etc.)||£40.70||£2,116||7%|
|Utilities (e.g., water, gas, electric, etc.)||£31.80||£1,654||6%|
|Clothing and footwear||£24.30||£1,264||4%|
|Personal (e.g., toiletries, jewellery, sunglasses, etc.)||£16.50||£858||3%|
|Vices (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, etc.)||£12.40||£645||2%|
|Money transfers and credit (e.g., cash gifts)||£13.70||£712||2%|
|Licences, fines and transfers (e.g., stamp duty, road tax)||£3.70||£192||1%|
Average Cost of Housing
The average UK household spends £10,800 per year on housing-related expenses. That’s an average of around £4,500 for direct payments on rent or mortgage interest, council taxes and insurance. The remaining £6,300 covers utilities and other household operational and maintenance expenses and equipment, as well as household goods & services. 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 Average Annual UK Housing Costs per household||Annual||Weekly|
|Rent & Mortgage Interest Payments||£3,016||£58.00|
|Utilities (water, gas & electric, internet, landline, TV subscriptions, etc.)||£2,428||£46.70|
|Household Goods & Services||£2,116||£40.70|
|Maintenance & Home Improvements||£1,799||£34.60|
|Average Total Housing Costs per Household||£10,826||£208.20|
Total costs for a regular roof over your head, whether rented or owned, typically eat up around 35% of an average UK household’s income. While the largest component of housing costs is rent or mortgage interest, a close second is the cost of utilities. The cost of Gas & Electric is by far our largest utility expense. Recent increases in the marketplace have led to a government push to encourage consumers to switch energy suppliers, in an effort to keep costs down.
|Breakdown of UK Home Services & Utilities Costs per household||Annual||Weekly|
|Electric & Gas||£1,170||£22.50|
|Average Annual Home Services & Utilities Costs||£2,428||£46.70|
Average UK Transportation Costs
The second largest cost for the average UK household, behind housing, is transport. We spend an average of £4,763 per year to get around, a 2% increase from 2016—this is more than the average household spends on rent/mortgage interest payments a year.
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 average cost of car insurance is £562 per year per household. 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.
Those taking public transport spend £348 on average on bus, train and tube rides. Finally, holidays—the average household spends another £354 on airfares, mostly heading out of the UK.
|Breakdown of Average UK Transportation Costs per household||Annual||Weekly|
|Purchase of Vehicles||£1,451||£27.90|
|Petrol & Diesel||£1,102||£21.20|
|Vehicle Operation Expenses||£624||£12.00|
|Average Annual Transportation Costs per Household||£4,763||£91.60|
Average UK Food Costs
The third largest household budget category is food. The average UK household spends £3,150 a year on groceries and non-alcoholic drinks at home. Another £450 is spent on alcohol (mostly wine) for consumption at home. Eating and drinking out consumes a further £2,020 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 we 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. Those households with disposable incomes less than £10,000 per year still spend about £2,390 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 £67,000 of annual disposable incomes, spend £10,100 on food & drinks, with nearly half 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.
One notable change in expenditures is the decrease in alcohol and tobacco spending over time. For the past few years, household spending on these vices has dropped below £12 a week.
Note: Updated in January 2019 to reflect the most recent Living Costs and Food Survey from the ONS.