Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland people have least amount of disposable income in whole of UK

By Claire Williamson

People in Northern Ireland have the lowest disposable incomes in the UK.

According to figures released by the Office for National Stastistics (ONS), in Northern Ireland the figure was £13,902 compared to a UK average of £16,791.

The figures by ONS cover the year 2012 and measure gross disposable household income, which is an assessment of what the average person has available to save or spend.

The amount of disposable income increased in all UK regions between 2011 and 2012, but Northern Ireland had the weakest growth of 2.7%.

London had, by far, the highest average disposable income at £21,446.

The north east of England had the strongest growth at 4%, followed by Wales at 3.8%.

Compared to the UK as a whole, Northern Ireland has had a longer-lasting recession as a result of its property crash.

Northern Ireland's disposable income gap with the rest of the UK narrowed during the boom years, but since 2007 had steadily widened.

Outer Belfast showed an average disposable income of almost £15,000.

The east of Northern Ireland had an average of £14,524, while the north showed £12,863. Meanwhile, the west and south of Northern Ireland sat at £12,605.

Prof Neil Gibson, from the Northern Ireland Centre for Economic Policy at the University of Ulster, said the figures did not surprise him.

He said: "The key determinant of how much income you have is your wage.

"We have proportionately lower wages than elsewhere in the UK, so that is the big driver of your disposable income."

He added: "Many of the costs that people incur are fixed in price, so we can't avoid the price of milk or bread or car insurance.

"So, the first thing to say is that, for people across the UK, many of us incur the same costs every day, but we are proportionately earning less.

"The second part of the story is there are certain things that cost more here.

"If you think about disposable income in terms of the money you have left after you have paid your necessities, there are certain things in Northern Ireland which are cheaper, for example rates compared to council tax.

"But there are things that are more expensive.

"Insurance is one of the obvious ones."

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