Region bucks national trend on fuel costs

Concerns have been raised about increasing fuel prices after new figures showed that householders in East Anglia were spending even more of their earnings on transport.

A new report on family spending reveals that people in the East are bucking a national trend, which shows that households in the UK spent less in 2009 compared to the previous year.

However, soaring petrol and diesel prices have been blamed on rising expenditure levels in the region at a time when spending on transport across the UK has reduced.

New figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) from a survey of 6,000 people reveals that the average family spent almost �60 a week last year – a fall of 8pc – on transport costs.

However, households in the rural East spent more than �67 a week on transport in 2009, an extra �6 compared to the previous year.

The report on household expenditure comes as petrol and diesel prices are already reaching record levels and are set to go up another 0.76p a litre in January.

The latest figures show that UK householders tightened their belts during the recession and were spending on average �455 a week compared to �471 in 2008. However, the East was the third highest spending region in the UK at �487 a week, behind London and the South East.

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Nicola Currie, eastern regional director for the Country Land and Business Association, said improved high-speed broadband and supporting rural infrastructure would help reduce travel costs for householders.

'Fuel is a necessity, not a luxury in rural East Anglia. The solution for those working and living in our countryside and to keep costs under control, is to ensure proper sustainable growth in our market towns and villages to support local shops, schools, health centres and pubs and keep travel to a minimum,' she said.

RAC motoring strategist Adrian Tink urged the government to cancel planned fuel duty rises.

'Fuel continues to be a major contributor in the rising costs, with little being done to control the spiralling prices at the pumps. Motorists will continue to be hit hard in the new year with the additional rise in VAT to 20pc. This is likely to take us into a new era of record petrol prices, which is why it is vital the government takes a close look at the issue to help end the war on motorists' pockets,' he said.