Less ‘Spare Cash’ For Brits This Year as Higher Fuel and Tax Bills Take Grip

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Essential spending to increase to £484 this year according to http://www.uSwitch.com�s Spendable Income Index

2004 saw the first fall in the Spendable Income Index since 1998 as taxes and essential spending reduced the share of income left over to spend on ourselves or ‘spare cash’, according to http://www.uSwitch.com’s latest ‘Spendable Income Index*’, unfortunately latest forecasts from the index reveals that Brits can expect further falls in our spending money in 2005.

Running the home is the key contributor to our dwindling cash reserves, with fuels and mortgage payments showing very large increases over the fourth quarter of 2004. Compared to the same period 2003, mortgage interest payments cost 32.2% more, gas costs 11% more, electricity 8.8% more and petrol, diesel and motor fuels 9.8% more. Looking forward, the trend in rising prices looks set to continue.

http://www.uSwitch.com’s Spendable Income Index reveals that:

· This year for every extra £1 in your pay packet, only 27p will be spendable income. This compares with 32p in the pound in 2004, and 50p in the pound the year before (2003).

· Gas prices will rise by 12%, the biggest growth in the index, whilst electricity prices will rise by 7%.

· We should brace ourselves for large increases of 10.8 per cent in direct taxes (that’s 4.8 per cent higher than previous years**) compared to gross income growth of just 4.1 per cent.

· Each household will have to pay an extra £484 more to service the home this year. Up £63 on the last quarter of 2004 alone and £1,329 since 2002.

· The largest cost reduction year on year in the index comes from vehicle sales which fell by 6.0 per cent.

Andrew Salmon, managing director of http://www.uSwitch.com commented: “The index paints a gloomy picture for our finances this year. Energy prices will be responsible for some of the biggest price rises in the index in 2005 and people are starting to feel the pinch from last year’s interest rate rises on their mortgage payments. What’s more, we also expect significant increases in taxation once the general election is over to remedy public borrowing.”

“With an actual decline in the share of income that becomes spare cash for the first time in seven years and no let up in rising household costs for the foreseeable future, the onus is still very much on us Brits to take action. People will need to start tightening their belts or become savvier with their cash to offset rising costs. The message is simple, shop around and switch away from the highest charging companies.”

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For more information please contact:

Jennifer Evans, http://www.uSwitch.com on 0207 802 2923 or jenniferevans@uswitch.com

Alison Merrigan, Lansons Communications on 0207 294 3634 or alisonm@lansons.com

Francesca Pattison, Lansons Communications on 0207 294 3638 or francescap@lansons.com

Notes to editors:

*The Spendable Income index is produced by CEBR for independent comparison and switching service uSwitch.com Home Services and looks at the amount of ‘spare cash’ households have left after tax and essential household spending.

**To 1995, the date the index is measured from.

Full report is available by contacting 0207 294 3634 or 0207 802 2923.

http://www.uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and phone based comparison and switching service that helps consumers compare prices on gas, electricity, home telephone, DTV, broadband providers and personal finance products. Our aim is to help customers take advantage of the best tariffs and services on offer from every supplier. The company has developed a series of calculators that evaluate a number of key factors including price, location, service and payment method, and advises consumers on the best deal to suit their needs. Customers can run a comparison and switch online or freephone customer services direct on 0800 093 0607.

The service is also available via fax and post. Fax 0207 233 5933 or write to Customer Services, uSwitch.com, 10th Floor, Portland House, Stag Place, London, SW1E 5BH, with their postcode and usage details.

uSwitch.com is not a supplier but acts as an independent advisor, giving consumers an impartial view of what’s on offer.

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