Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland public most negative in UK on economy, report reveals


People in Northern Ireland are more pessimistic about the economy than any of their UK counterparts, a new report reveals today. (stock photo)
People in Northern Ireland are more pessimistic about the economy than any of their UK counterparts, a new report reveals today. (stock photo)
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

People in Northern Ireland are more pessimistic about the economy than any of their UK counterparts, a new report reveals today.

In its first ever Consumer Insight Report for Northern Ireland, Which? has lifted the lid on our biggest concerns, finding that people here are most worried about fuel prices, energy bills and Brexit.

The consumer champion's in-depth analysis has unpicked the trends and financial outlook of the average local consumer to expose a series of stark findings.

Among the standout revelations, two out of every five (42%) people surveyed believed the UK's economy was in a poor state, while three in five (60%) thought it would worsen in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, across the UK as a whole, only half (49%) anticipated the economy would worsen, indicating that householders here are more cautious in their general outlook.

Which? also found the price of fuel was the issue people here were most concerned about - with three-quarters (74%) anxious about rising costs compared to two-thirds (68%) in the UK as a whole.

Energy bills and the cost of groceries also ranked among the most common worries for consumers in Northern Ireland - with around two-thirds anxious about energy (68%) and 66% about food prices.

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Caroline Normand, Which? director of advocacy, said the Consumer Insight Report 2019, which is based on a sample of 1,009 local respondents, reflects an overwhelming negativity.

"The research highlights a worrying sense of pessimism among consumers in Northern Ireland, with Brexit, fuel costs and public spending weighing on people's minds more than anywhere else in the UK," she said.

"With uncertainty around Brexit and Stormont politics looming large, politicians, regulators and businesses in Northern Ireland must take heed of these findings and work to ensure consumers are not getting a raw deal when it comes to essential services."

The study also showed that seven in 10 (71%) of local people were worried about Brexit and public spending cuts, compared to six in 10 (61%) and 66% respectively across the UK.

More consumers in Northern Ireland expected to increase spending on everyday essentials compared to consumers across the UK, as around two in five (43%) anticipated their energy bills would rise compared to a third (33%) in the UK, and nearly four in 10 (37%) predicted fuel costs associated with running a car would increase compared with 31% in the UK.

The research also revealed that around a third (34%) anticipated the cost of groceries would increase, while one in five (20%) said the same about rent or mortgage repayments.

Despite their pessimistic view of the economy, however, more people in Northern Ireland were satisfied with their life overall (71%), compared to two-thirds UK-wide (65%), and just over half (51%) said their household finances were good, reflecting the UK figure of 49%.

When it came to levels of trust, Which? found the water industry was the most trusted sector of Northern Ireland's economy - with nearly two-thirds (64%) trusting in their water provider, compared to six in 10 (59%) in the UK.

This was closely followed by the food and grocery industry, with 63% saying they trusted this sector, and the domestic and tech appliances industries, which had 58% and 54% trust respectively.

Car dealers and estate and letting agents were the least frequently trusted industries here - only enjoying 11% and 14% trust respectively.

The rail industry was also among the least frequently trusted industry, but while only a third (34%) said they had confidence in the rail sector, this was more than the UK on average where only a quarter (24%) trust rail companies.

of NI people believed UK's economy was in a poor state, and 60% thought it would worsen this year

in NI were concerned about rising fuel prices, compared to 68% around the UK as a whole

Belfast Telegraph