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Getting along wih less to go on

Average families have seen their disposable incomes drop by £8 a week in the past year, research suggests.

Although earnings rose by £23 a week, or 3.6%. that was outstripped by taxes, which rose 6.5%, and higher bills for essential items such as food and fuel. This week government figures showed that higher fuel and food bills had driven annual inflation to its highest level for 11 years.

The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King , also warned that real incomes would stagnate this coming year.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research said the average family had an income of £633 a week, which was 3.6% higher than May 2007. However, it found taxes and national insurance had risen by 6.5% over that time. Adding in the effect of more expensive essential spending - such as transport fares, utility bills, food, clothes and housing - meant that these families now had, typically, just £131 left to spend on other things - a drop of 6%.

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