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British families suffered their fourth consecutive monthly squeeze in living standards in October, as soaring gas and electricity prices pushed up household costs. Demos-PwC Good Growth Index – which measures unemployment, disposable income, work-life balance, health, transport, income inequality and housing – found that only Spain was less attractive than Britain of major OECD countries.

Growth in essential spending reached its highest level this year, rising 3.7pc for the month of October, according to Lloyds TSB’s Spending Power Report. The rise outpaced income growth, which slowed to 3.3pc and left real incomes 1.6pc lower than last year.

Spending on gas and electricity grew by 7.4pc last month despite it being one of the mildest Octobers on record. “The likelihood is that this figure will continue to rise in the coming months as the weather gets colder,” Lloyds TSB said.

Official inflation figures today are expected to offer little respite, with the headline measure of consumer price growth forecast to decline from 5.2pc to just 5.1pc.

As a result, more households are looking to save than at any time in the past year, Lloyds’ research found.

A separate study added to the sense of gloom after Britain came second bottom in a new measure of economic well-being.

The Demos-PwC Good Growth Index – which measures unemployment, disposable income, work-life balance, health, transport, income inequality and housing – found that only Spain was less attractive of major OECD countries.

Within the UK, London emerged as the worst place to live and the south-east as the best.

The Daily Telegraph, 15 November 2011