Cars last to go in cost-cutting

While many Britons are tightening their belts as a result of the credit crunch, most are only cutting spending on essential items rather than compromise on luxuries such as their car.

A poll of consumers' spending habits showed that just 4% of those questioned had downgraded the size of the car, even though they were facing increasing costs in keeping it on the road because of rising fuel prices and higher costs of car insurance.

More than one in 10 of drivers (11%) said that, while they were happy to keep their vehicle, they were trying to cut down on daily expenditure by making more use of public transport.

The survey for savings and mortgage provider Birmingham Midshires also showed that just over half (52%) of people said they had started to buy supermarket's own brand products in a bid to reduce their weekly shopping bill, while 14% had started to grow their own vegetables to save money.

Tim Hague, director of savings and investments at Birmingham Midshires, said: "The effects of increasing bills are being felt right across the country and are inspiring people to make radical changes to the way they live their lives."

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