Belfast Telegraph

Consumers still feeling the pinch: Report says 43% of people here run out of money before end of the month

By Joanne Fleming

Nearly half of people in Northern Ireland are running out of money before the end of the month, according to a new report.

Of those surveyed for the Consumer Council study, 43% said they sometimes didn't make it to pay day. This is considered significant because 37% of consumers here report having no credit arrangements.

And while the recession may be officially over, the green shoots of recovery are not being felt by 70% of consumers in Northern Ireland despite a number of positive signs in the local economy.

Home energy costs topped the list of concerns (40%) with rent or mortgage costs following (23%) and 20% worrying how to repair or replace a big household item.

In addition, 26% admitted that they struggle keeping up with bills and credit card commitments from time to time, with 12% saying it is a constant struggle. This figure rises to 27% and 23% respectively for people who are unemployed or on state pensions.

Almost a third (30%) think they are worse off due to the increased cost of fuel and domestic energy, increased cost of food and reduced pay or job loss.

On a positive note, when asked about keeping up with financial commitments, more than half (54%) said they were keeping up well - up from 47% compared to December 2013.

Consumers were also asked about their ability to make ends meet right now, with 29% saying it was a worry - down from 52% in previous research in 2010.

According to the Consumer Council's 'Consumer Outlook' research into consumer confidence, the 'kitchen table' concerns suggest there is a lag in how quickly household budgets are recovering compared to the general economy.

Aodhan O'Donnell, the council's interim chief executive, said the research painted a "mixed picture" with some consumer confidence returning and some pressures on household budgets decreasing.

Factfile

70% of consumers in Northern Ireland are not feeling the benefits of the economic recovery. 43% of people have run out of money before the end of the month at some point within the past two years. Around three in five consumers report having a surplus of funds available at the end of the month - but this is typically less than £100.

Belfast Telegraph

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