Financial cost of kids' activities on the riseThe cost of sporting and cultural activities grows

29 March 2009

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The cost of sporting and cultural activities for children has risen by 67% over the past decade, double the rate of inflation in the same period, research showed yesterday.

Computer games, mobile phones and DVDs have all reduced in price over 10 years, but outdoor activities and school dinners have gone up much faster than inflation as measured by the Retail Prices Index.

The figures, in a survey of children's spending by Halifax, showed that inflation for under-16s between 1998 and 2008 was just 22%, compared to RPI of 32%.

Researchers looked at categories of goods and services in the RPI that children aged 7 to 15 typically buy, weighting each item by its average share of a child's weekly expenditure.

They found that prices over 10 years fell in four of the 10 spending categories, with the cost of games and toys dropping by 29%, mobile phones and charges falling by 20%, while music and dvds cost 18% less, and clothing and footwear was 17% cheaper.

But the cost of sporting and cultural activities increased by triple the overall rise in the children's price index, while travel was up 47% and books and stationery rose by 38%.

Food and drink make up the largest proportion of spend

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: "I am not surprised - swimming baths and gyms are putting their prices up, and anything that impinges on the spending power of the child in that fashion will probably be bad news.

"It is all to do with people trying to stay afloat - gyms are putting up their prices and there are people caught in the middle of this."

Food and drink costs accounted for nearly four tenths of the total average weekly expenditure of a typical child.

Confectionery, snacks and drinks prices rose by 24% during the 10 years, and school dinners and takeaways went up 47%.

The price of goods and services typically used by children rose by 3.6% during 2008, the biggest annual increase since 1992, despite RPI falling during the year from 4.3% to 4%.

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