Belfast Telegraph

Households just 27 days away from being on breadline

By Claire McNeilly

Job loss would force a Northern Ireland household on the breadline in less than a month, a shocking new study has shown.

The grim findings follow an investigation into how long average local families could last without their usual source of income. It found that it would take most just 27 days after their savings ran out to become reliant on state benefits or other people for financial support.

The results of Legal & General's first Northern Ireland Deadline to the Breadline report also indicated that families themselves underestimated their plight, believing they could survive 113 days – or over four times longer.

John Pollock, the life assurance company's chief executive officer, said he was concerned most households here were in such a precarious financial situation. "Northern Ireland continues to have the highest proportion of households (40%) reporting no savings of any region or country in the UK," he said. "Even more worrying, some 39% of households in Northern Ireland have no back-up plans in place to deal with an unforeseen shock to their income."

"Northern Ireland is starting to show some signs of economic recovery, but regaining the ground lost since 2007 is likely to be a long process."

He added: "The fact that households in Northern Ireland will be reliant upon friends, family or state benefits for financial support – within just a month of a family or individual losing their usual sources of income – should act as a stark reminder that this is no time to ignore the warning signs."

Worryingly, the authors of the report claim that the 'deadline to the breadline' in Northern Ireland has shortened by seven days in the past nine months – from 34 to 27 days.

Despite the recovery in the economy and the jobs market gathering pace, they have urged local families to remain wary.

Other key findings of the Legal & General study include:

* The average UK household is 26 days from the breadline – but those of a working age (18-64 years old) have a deadline of just 11 days.

* Households in London have the longest average deadline (79 days) due to a dramatic increase in median savings in the capital over the past six months. Increased savings have also boosted the South East to 44 days, highlighting the disparities between the economic health of these two regions compared to the rest of the UK.

* Median household savings in the North East – which is one of the regions with the shortest deadline along with Wales – have improved, but still stand at just £380.

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