East of England households spend more per week than in almost any other region, ONS finds

A man collecting train tickets from a machine, as the ONS reveals transport is still the biggest exp

A man collecting train tickets from a machine, as the ONS reveals transport is still the biggest expenditure in many households' weekly budgets. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Average UK household spending has returned to levels not seen since before the economic downturn, with the East of England among the top-spending regions, new figures show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed average weekly spending by UK households rose to £554.20 in the year ending March 31 2017, up from £533 the previous year.

The top spending category was transport, with households spending an average of £79.70 a week, a real-terms increase of £5.40 – or 14% – compared with the previous year.

Food spending saw a slight spike in 2016/17, prompted by an increase in food prices caused by rising inflation.

Meanwhile spending on recreation and culture continued its upward trajectory of the past 15 years – this increase was largely driven in 2016/17 by greater spending on package holidays, with households spending 23% more per week on package holidays abroad (£25.50) than in the previous year.

The gap in spending between English regions remains wide, differing by more than £200.

Households in the East were the third highest spenders after London and the South East – between 2015 and 2017 average spending in the region was £558.10 a week compared with a UK average of £536.80.

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UK household spending reached a low of £511 a week in the 2011/12 financial year, but is now approaching its pre-downturn peak of £558.60, achieved in 2004/05.