Belfast Telegraph

Hard-hit families in Northern Ireland face five more years of financial squeeze

BY CLAIRE MCNEILLY

Hard-pressed Northern Ireland householders face a further five years of financial squeeze as spending power is slashed by £600 a year.

That's according to a report by the economic consultancy Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) which produces a monthly 'Income Tracker' for the Asda supermarket chain.

It examines spending habits and discretionary incomes across the UK.

The findings of its latest report make grim reading for consumers in Northern Ireland as it concludes that local spending power has already been eroded due to some of the slowest income growth and fastest increases in the cost of living.

And it predicts a further squeeze due to falling public spending and caps on benefits.

The report said that the average Northern Ireland household could face a further 20% (£600) decline in their annual spending power.

It says that slow income growth combined with increases in the cost of living have taken their toll in contributing to the erosion.

So too, has the province's high dependency on state support and employment, both of which are expected to fall.

All in all, the findings suggest that Northern Ireland remains one of the hardest hit regions across the UK – and the outlook to 2018 shows little sign of improvement for local families.

Meanwhile, the research has found that in 2013 the average UK household is £868 a year worse off than it was in 2009.

A key reason is the prediction that inflation will outpace wage growth, growing year on year by an average of 2.5% compared to average wage increases of 2.2%.

Asda boss Andy Clarke said the next five years will remain challenging."When we launched the Income Tracker five years ago, we could not have foreseen what has financially been the hardest five years this generation has known," he said.background

The key results of the Asda Income Tracker report:

  • By 2018 the average Northern Ireland household is projected to face a further 20% decline in annual discretionary income (or £600) – the hardest hit region in the UK. (Discretionary income applies to the money you have left after essential items are paid for.)
  • Spending power in Northern Ireland has been eroded due to some of the slowest income growth (12%) and fastest increases in the cost of living (16.6%) of all UK regions.

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