Rising utility bills have left nearly one in five people paying more to work from home than to commute to the office last month.
In an Office for National Statistics survey, nearly half the workers polled said home working still allowed them to save money, but the percentage who said it cost more had risen from 14% in November 2021 to 18% in January 2022.
Of those, nine out of 10 blamed higher utility bills following a 12% rise in the energy price cap in October—and the price cap is set to rise by a further record 54% in April.
A third of home workers said their food costs were higher, while a quarter cited higher broadband costs—another bill that’s set to rise sharply in April, with a 9.3% price rise from BT.
However, the survey found that on average, the pandemic had actually been good for household finances and savings, although it was wealthier families who tended to benefit while lower-income families were worse off than before.
Of those who are still saving money working from home, half say they’re saving on car parking and fuel bills, while 40% are spending less on public transport. Not surprisingly, it’s younger adults who are seeing the biggest savings on public transport, while the over-50s are saving more on driving.
However, these savings may not offset rising energy costs for much longer. With most people paying around £700 more for gas and electricity in 2022, real post-tax household income will drop by around 2%, the biggest fall in any calendar year since at least the start of the 1990s, when records began. This means people who have saved money through home working may have to dig into those savings to pay the bills.