Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland households have least amount of disposable income in UK, latest statistics reveal

BY Allan Preston

Households in Northern Ireland have the least amount of disposable cash to spend compared to the rest of the UK, according to new official figures.

The Office for National Statistics revealed that in 2014 the average household in Northern Ireland had £14,645 to save or spend - £3,000 behind the UK national average and nearly £9,000 behind the top earning region of London.

The province's figure was down 0.3% from the year before and is the worst in the UK.

In total, the population of Northern Ireland had £26.95bn of disposable income in 2014.

This represents just 2.3% of the UK total of £1,160 trillion.

Last week a free debt advice service was launched for Northern Ireland after it emerged one in five people here struggles financially, compared to one in six elsewhere in the UK.

The service was launched by the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) and the Money Advice Service, who said 26,000 locals worried about money don't have any help. CAB money and debt manager Kathy McKenna said the latest negative financial forecast wasn't unexpected, but stressed help was available.

"It doesn't surprise us at all," she said. "Income levels per annum are generally a couple of thousand pounds less here anyway."

Ms McKenna said the new debt advice service was designed not only to help clients pay back debts, but to explain ways to generate more money and get the best deals for phone and utility bills.

"We will check if they're on the right tax code," she explained. "We'll check if they're entitled to any tax credits or any other benefits."

Suggestions for making extra money include renting a room, where up to £4,000 can be earned tax free a year.

"We also have a whole big suite of charitable trusts and grants that people can apply to get an extra income," added Ms McKenna.

"We'll also help them to look at ways to save in expenditure for example directing them to comparison websites, we'll look at their bills like phone tarrifs and utility companies where we could advise them on switching."

If you are struggling financially, a free debt advice session is available by calling 0800 028 1881.

Belfast Telegraph


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