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Disposable income in Northern Ireland hits £100 mark but gap with UK widening

By Angela Rainey

Published 26/04/2016

Welcome boost: Asda’s Andy Clarke
Welcome boost: Asda’s Andy Clarke

The disposable weekly income of families in Northern Ireland has reached the £100 "milestone", according to new research.

However, that is still £89 less than the same figure in Great Britain.

The figures for Asda's Income Tracker show an increase of £7 per week compared to the same period last year.

The closest in Great Britain is the North East, where households have £129 of disposable weekly income, once taxes and bills have been paid.

The survey warns that the gap is widening between here and the rest of the UK.

London tops the chart with a whopping £266 of disposable income to spend on treats per week.

The Income Tracker report also reveals that the pace of growth in Northern Ireland has slowed significantly to 7.2% compared to the same period last year where the region enjoyed an increase of 14.8%.

But it says this is reflective of the situation across the UK and is largely due to the general rise in essential item inflation of 0.1%.

The report blames a "continued weakness in Northern Ireland's labour market" as a constraint on spending power growth but says overall the cost of living is dropping.

The notable exceptions are clothing, footwear and dining out, which have all increased.

Fuel prices have dropped by 9.2% and electricity and gas by 3.7%, and there has also been a decrease in food and drink prices of 2.7%.

UK-wide employment levels and wage growth also remained stable last month.

The employment rate stood steady at 74.1%, while regular earnings growth remained at 2.2%.

Sam Alderson, economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said: "While increases in inflation in recent months have weighed on growth rates, households across the country continued to benefit from robust annual increases in spending power in March."

Asda president and CEO Andy Clarke said: "The sustained rise in discretionary income gives family finances a welcome boost ahead of the summer months.

"While inflation has slightly increased in recent months, low overall interest rates continue to be good news for consumers.

"The outlook remains cautiously positive, despite a slow-down in wage growth across the country as a whole, which really can be seen on a regional level where we are already noticing an increase in household income."

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