Communications costs comprise 12% of UK household spending

UK consumers spent more on communications than on alcohol and tobacco as a result of more homes having computers and internet connections, the Office for National Statistics revealed on Tuesday.

UK consumers spent more on communications than on alcohol and tobacco as a result of more homes having computers and internet connections, the Office for National Statistics revealed on Tuesday.

The annual household spend and consumer durable reports showed weekly spending dropped from £471 a week to £455, the first drop since 2001-02.

Spending on communications was about 12% of total spending, which was dominated by transport costs at £58.40 a week.

The number of households that owned a computer rose from 72% to 75% between 2008 and 2009, up from 70% in 2007. The percentage of households with an internet connection rose from 66% in 2008 to 71% in 2009, the ONS said.

In the richest 10% of homes, 98% of households owned a home computer and 97% had an internet connection in 2009, it said. In the poorest 10% of homes, 38% of households had a home computer and 30% had an internet connection.

The ONS found evidence of a digital divide based on age. Some 93% of households with children had internet access at home. Among retired households, 32% had internet access at home in two-adult households and 9% in one-adult households.

The ONS figures show the mobile phone market has matured. Growth in mobile phone ownership has been moderate since 2001/02, increasing from 65% to 81% in 2009, it said.

Ownership varies by income group. Only 67% of households in the poorest 10% of homes reported ownership in 2009, compared with 92% in the richest 10%.

The proportion of households with a satellite, digital or cable receiver rose to 86% in 2009 from 82% in 2008, and from 43% in 2001/02. In the richest 10% of homes, 93% had a satellite receiver compared with 68% in the poorest 10%.

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