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Disposable income in Northern Ireland is UK's lowest as wealth gap widens

By Claire McNeilly

Published 05/06/2015

People in Northern Ireland have lower disposable incomes than anywhere else in the UK, it has emerged
People in Northern Ireland have lower disposable incomes than anywhere else in the UK, it has emerged

People in Northern Ireland have lower disposable incomes than anywhere else in the UK, it has emerged.

New figures also reveal that residents here are worse off than they were eight years ago, when we compared much more favourably with other regions.

Further analysis shows that while we have seen our incomes fall relative to the UK average, the Scots and Welsh have seen theirs increase.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) - which is behind the research - has produced a new interactive map where users can key in their postcodes to see how their circumstances in a particular area has changed, for better or worse, since 1997.

Northern Ireland residents had the lowest gross disposable income per head in 2013, where the average person had £14,347 available to save or spend, compared with a UK average of £17,559.

An in-depth examination of the data also reveals that average income across Northern Ireland was at its best in 2007, when it was at 88% of the UK, or £13,430 per person.

And it emerged that, from 2007 to 2013, average disposable income here has fallen by 5% relative to the UK average and now sits at 83%.

Indeed, the best period for incomes improving was between 1999 and 2007 when Northern Ireland disposable incomes rose by just over 10% faster than the UK average - which meant an average net gain in 2007 prices of £1,635. Economist John Simpson said: "Over the last 40 years, Northern Ireland has always been somewhere between 80% and 85% of the UK average.

"It went through a period of significant improvement in the period from 2000 to 2007.

"Unfortunately, since 2007, the gains which we had made have been eroded as we have fallen again relatively behind the rest of the UK."

Gross disposable income is what people have left to live on once their taxes, mortgage or rent and pension savings have been deducted.

The ONS data shows that there is a huge difference in the amount people have to spend, after bills are paid, depending on which part of Northern Ireland they live in.

In outer Belfast (which means the Belfast commuting area), for example, residents had almost £2,300 more gross disposable income per head in 2013 than their counterparts in the north of Northern Ireland.

Outer Belfast residents had an average of £15,208 - the third lowest of any area of the UK.

An interactive map is viewable here

Gross disposable household income per person in 2013

UK as a whole £17,559

Northern Ireland £14,347

London £22,516

Outer Belfast £15,208

North of NI £12,910

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