Cost of living in Devon and Cornwall is among highest in country
The cost of living in the South West is among the highest in the country, new figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown.
The figures indicate costs are particularly high in the rural parts of the South West, due in large part to higher transport costs.
The six-county wide region boasts weekly household expenditure of £479.90, the fourth highest of nine English regions. Only South East families spend more on transport.
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St Ives Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George, who has served on Parliament's Environment Select Committee and was the Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary, said: "The figures are no surprise.
"And it is a double-whammy for places like Cornwall where incomes are lower than in urban areas. Countryside salaries are very different from a stockbroker's salary.
"We do not want to get to a situation where the countryside is a place that is the exclusive preserve of the better-off and we need to make sure there is help in place to defend rural dwellers."
As well as extending the islands-only fuel rebate, Mr George said bus fares should be subsidised for young people in rural areas.
In rural areas, families spent more than their urban counterparts across ten out of 12 indicators, including food and drink, cigarettes and alcohol and recreation and culture.
Only on domestic fuel and power and clothing did urban dwellers spend more, according to figures over a three-year period.
Motorists on the Isles of Scilly and islands off Scotland have in theory been enjoying the 5p-per-litre rebate since March 1, after the UK government received a go-ahead from Brussels last year.
But MPs across the region also want a discount scheme for the more isolated mainland areas, where fuel prices are typically higher than cities and major towns.
The Western Morning News reported last year officials were playing down the prospect of an islands-only fuel rebate scheme being rolled out to the mainland. The reluctance to commit to extending the relief stems from the hurdles ministers would face to get it through.
An islands-only cut, which works through fuel retailers having to pass on full saving of the rebate on petrol and diesel to customers, has operated in Greece and Portugal.
Treasury officials say, though, there is no precedent for a mainland state-funded discount, meaning EU law would have to be changed.
Anne McIntosh MP, chairman of the Environment Select Committee, said: "I will redouble my efforts to have the rural fuel pilot extended to limited areas."
Our weekly spend is now £483.60:
Families’ weekly spending rose to around £483.60 a week last year – an increase of £10 a week on the typical levels recorded in 2010, official figures showed today.
Spending increased for the second year in a row and the 2011 average expenditure is the highest recorded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)’s annual Family Spending report series.
The biggest costs were taken up by transport, which rose to £65.70 per week, up 80p from the previous year.
Recreation and culture took up the next highest chunk of families’ spending, costing £63.90 a week on average.
This included a £2-a-week increase on spending on recreational services taking the cost to £19.80.
The cost of audio-visual equipment edged down slightly to £6.30, representing a decrease of 90p a week compared with 2010.