Home costs replace food as biggest household outlay


HOUSEHOLDS ARE spending a greater proportion of their income on housing than they do on food, a new survey showed.

The household budget survey, compiled by the Central Statistics Office, also showed a rise in disposable income for 2009-2010 and a sharp rise in ownership of consumer electronics, such as games consoles, home computers and mobile phones.

According to the survey, the proportion of total spending on food fell to 16.2 per cent in 2009-2010, an average of €131.28 a week, compared with 18.2 per cent in 2004-2005. However, expenditure on housing rose from 12 per cent to 18.2 per cent in the same period. This includes rent, mortgages, maintenance and repair, house insurance and capital investment for extensions and other improvements.

The household budget survey is used to update the weighting applied in the consumer price index and determines current expenditure patterns.

The survey noted that there had been a steady decline in food spending over the past 30 years. In contrast, much of the increase in expenditure on housing happened over the 10 years between 1999-2000 and 2009-2010, as the property boom took hold.

Between those surveys, the proportion of total expenditure related to housing rose from 9.6 per cent to 18.2 per cent.

Fuel and lighting expenditure has also risen sharply, accounting for about 4.4 per cent of the weekly spend. At an average of €35.35 a week, that represents a 15 per cent increase on the previous survey.

Households were also investing more in technology. The percentage with home computers rose to just over 77 per cent, from 56 per cent in the previous survey.

Almost 39 per cent of households had games consoles, compared with 29 per cent five years previously, and 65 per cent now had two or more television sets in the house, a significant jump from 49 per cent in 2004-2005.

Households are moving away from the traditional landline too. Some 96 per cent had at least one mobile phone in the household, compared with 84.3 per cent in 2004-2005. In contrast, only 70 per cent of households had a landline, compared with 86 per cent five years earlier and 89.2 per cent in the 1999-2000 survey.

Phone expenditure accounted for just over 3 per cent of household outgoings in the latest survey.

About 66 per cent had internet access, up from 42 per cent in the last survey and 14.2 per cent in the 1999-2000 report.

Transport expenditure dipped 5 per cent to €116.31 a week as spending on car purchases fell compared to the last survey. However, when the impact of car purchases was excluded, spending on transport rose by 14.2 per cent.

Households spent about 3 per cent more every week compared with five years ago. According to the latest survey, the average household spent €810.61 a week for 2009-2010, compared with €787.07 five years earlier.

Gross weekly household income was €1,026.77, about 4 per cent higher than the €987.96 recorded five years earlier. Average weekly household disposable income was 5 per cent higher at €885.72.