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Northern Ireland families have £20 per-week less to spend after bills compared to last year, new figures reveal


File photo

File photo

File photo

A typical Northern Ireland family will have £20 less in their pocket to spend each week after a new report revealed discretionary spending has fallen by over 13% at the start of 2022.

Supermarket Asda compiled the statistics in their latest Income Tracker Report for March 2022, which shows the spending power families have here to splash out on treats and other extras after the bills are paid has fallen dramatically compared to this time last year. 

Discretionary spend has dropped to £127, £20 less than the same period last year and over £100 below the UK average.

The figures, which are also independently compiled by economic analysts Cebr, show Northern Ireland has suffered the largest contraction in spending power of any region across the UK.

According to one economist at Cebr, the figures reflect the fact Northern Ireland has a larger share of public sector workers relatively speaking, with the sector having suffered from lagging wage growth in recent months.

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They also cite changes in social security here as a cause for the contraction, with the withdrawal of the Universal Credit uplift of £20 per-week having an effect given the relatively high number of claimants in the province.

These factors come on top of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis affecting families across Northern Ireland, with increased energy and electricity costs.

On Tuesday, the latest gas price hike took effect, as around 100,000 Firmus Energy customers saw their bills increase by 16.31% in its Ten Towns area and a 37% increase in Belfast.

Commenting on the report and the longer-term outlook for Northern Ireland, Sam Miley, senior economist at Cebr said: “The latest Income Tracker report highlights the financial strain being placed on households amidst the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

“Though spending power is down almost across the board, those in Northern Ireland have been particularly impacted, with inflation spiralling and wage growth overall falling behind.

“These trends are set to continue over the coming months, meaning households could find themselves in an even more precarious position.”

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