Northern Ireland families have the lowest spending power of all the UK regions, according to a new survey.
The average family in the province was £5 a week better off than a year ago, but that increase was the smallest among the UK regions, supermarket chain Asda found.
Average disposable income in Northern Ireland was just £121 a week, compared with a UK average of £162.
The largest proportional rises occurred in the South West and the North West of England with families in these regions £10 and £9 a week respectively better off than in November 2008, the survey said.
An increase in transport costs was noted as a key driver in the rise in annual inflation, which is now running at its highest rate since May 2009.
Charles Davis, an economist at the Centre for Economic and Business Research who compiled the report for ASDA, said: “The latest ASDA income tracker shows that weak earnings growth and a rise in transport costs is putting downward pressure on discretionary incomes.
“Households are better off compared to a year ago, largely thanks to falling mortgage payments and utility bills. However, the rate of growth in discretionary income has slowed — and the VAT reversal could put more pressure on family incomes in the New Year.”
On the positive side, the research showed mortgage interest payments are 41.4% lower in November compared with a year earlier while the cost of utility bills fell continued to fall over the year. Electricity prices fell by 8.2% over the year to November while gas prices sank by 5.9% making it more affordable for families to heat their home.