Household finances failed to keep up with soaring inflation once again at the start of the year, marking the first time real disposable income has fallen for four quarters in a row since records began, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said real household disposable income dropped 0.2% between January and March as income growth of 1.5 per cent was outstripped by household inflation of 1.7 per cent.
Household finances have now been under pressure for a straight year, with rising prices amid the cost-of-living crisis meaning income after inflation has fallen for a record four consecutive quarters.
The latest figures came as the ONS confirmed its earlier estimation that gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the size of the economy – rose by 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of the year.
This marked a decline in growth from 1.3 per cent in the previous three months, but means GDP remains 0.7 per cent above the last quarter of 2019, before the pandemic struck.
Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “Our latest estimate for economic growth in the first quarter is unrevised as a whole, showing the UK continued to recover from the pandemic.
“Both household incomes and spending rose in cash terms in the first quarter, leaving the rate of saving unchanged.
“However, once taking account of inflation, incomes fell again, for the fourth consecutive quarter.”
Meanwhile, Royal accounts published on Thursday show that the monarchy’s taxpayer-funded spending came to £102.4 million during 2021/22 – an increase of £14.9 million, or 17 per cent, on the previous financial year.
Official royal travel amounted to £4.5 million, housekeeping and hospitality to £1.3 million, utilities £3.2 million and payroll costs £23.7 million.
Property maintenance soared by £14.4 million to £63.9 million, as the 10-year project to renovate Buckingham Palace continued.
Campaign group Republic lambasted the figures, with chief executive Graham Smith saying: “As always, while the rest of us face a cost-of-living crisis and continued squeezes on public services, the royals walk off with hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.”
He added: “We need to put the monarchy on a proper budgetary footing, just like any other public body. We need to slash that budget down to below £10m, and only fund what’s required for the functions of the head of state.”