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8.2 million households in 'transport poverty'

By Daniel Culpan

30 April2021

London underground train moving by platform 8.2 million households - equivalent to 37.9% - across the UK have fallen into 'transport poverty' as a result of increasing petrol prices and rail fares, This is Money reports.

'Transport poverty' is when people spend over 10% of their income on transport costs, including fuel, fares for public transport and vehicle maintenance. Campaigners say that the soaring cost of transport has left many vulnerable people so strapped for cash that they have to choose between 'meals or wheels' - with over a third of all households having to rein in their outgoings to afford travel costs.

The latest available figures for 2009/10 were obtained by Lilian Greenwood, Labour MP for Nottingham South, after she asked a question in parliament. Ms Greenwood said: "Transport costs hit certain groups hard, particularly young people, rural communities and those on low incomes who do not have any alternative to travel because they have to work."

In recent times, the cost of travel has risen sharply. The price of petrol is now more than 140p per litre - with fuel duty and tax in the UK higher than any other country in Europe. Rail fares have also been increasing at a rate of 6% a year.

At a time when many people are feeling the financial strain of pay freezes and stretched disposable incomes, there are concerns that households are having to take drastic action to afford their transport costs - or risk falling into debt problems. Luke Bosdet of the AA said: "We have heard of cases of people cutting back on food on the basis that they have to travel to work to earn the money to eat."

Image iStockPhotos / Maciej Noskowski

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