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UK household savings lowest in 40 years say ONS

8 April 10 10:10 GMT

People in the UK are saving less than at any time in the past 40 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The household saving ratio in the UK in 2008 was 1.7% of total resources, the lowest recorded since 1970, and well below the 7.6% average for that period.

The ONS Social Trends survey reveals that housing, water and fuel now represent the biggest area of spending.

In 1970 the highest proportion was spent on food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Spending changes

The ONS report, an annual account on the state of the nation, shows that housing, water and fuel now represent 21% of domestic household expenditure compared with 15% in 1970.

Over the same period, the proportion spent on food and drink has fallen from 21% to 9%.

The ONS says this does not necessarily mean the amount of food and non-alcoholic drinks purchased fell, but rather "it implies that expenditure on other goods and services has risen more rapidly".

Other categories showing large falls in the proportion of total spending between 1970 and 2008 were clothing and footwear, from 10% to 5%, and alcoholic drinks and tobacco, from 8% to 3%.

But from 1998 to 2008, the proportion of total domestic household expenditure spent on services exceeded that for goods.

Expenditure increases

The proportion of total domestic household spending on services between 1970 and 2008 increased from 35% to 52%.

Conversely, total household expenditure on goods decreased from 66% in 1970 to 46% in 2008.

Other categories that showed an increase over the period were:

• transport, increasing from 11% to 15%

• miscellaneous goods and services - which include personal care, social protection, insurance and financial services - up from 7% to 13%

• recreation and culture, from 9% to 11%

And people's perceptions and expectations towards their financial well-being affect their likelihood of saving, according to the ONS.

Between 2006 and 2008, people who had not been saving during the past 12 months were more likely to save in the next 12 months if they expected improvements in their financial situation.

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