Families spending more on transport than food or housing

Household spending has reached an all-time high - with rising petrol, fuel and food costs seeing families cut back elsewhere.

The latest official figures show British households are spending more on transport than on food, energy or housing.

The Office for National Statistics finds that the average British household spent £483.60 a week in 2011, up £10 a week from the year before and the highest figure ever recorded.

Transport accounts for £65.70 a week – with £36.40 going on petrol and another £10.20 going on train, bus or tube tickets. This was pushed into the top-spot by the rising cost of fuel - with spending on petrol, diesel and other motor oils rising £3.30 a week. Car insurance costs also rose.

Housing, fuel and power (excluding mortgages) cost £63.30 a week while food and non-alcoholic drinks cost households £54.80 on average.

Housing costs also saw rises, with rents, maintenance and gas and electricity all costing families more than the year before.

Britain's families compensated for these rising essential costs, spending less on furniture, clothes, shoes and computers and TVs. However, spending on sports, leisure and the cinema rose slightly.

Older Britons spent the least, on average, with households where the reference point was someone aged 75 or older spending less than half as much (£272.60 a week) as those where the reference person was 30-49 years old (£580.20).

Regionally, over the last three years, households in the North East (£384.20 a week), Wales (£398.20) and Yorkshire and the Humber (£410.10) spent the least on average each week, while families in London (£574.90), followed by the South East (£539.30), the East (£497.10) spent the most.

Costs in London were pushed up by housing, fuel and power - which cost 51% more in the capital than the national average - while those in rural areas spent 32% more on transport than city-dwellers.

Source: Living Costs and Food Survey - Office for National Statistics