Spending power rises for NI families

Published Thursday, 24 April 2014
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Families' spending power in Northern Ireland has grown by 4.8% annually to around £80 a week, but the region still lags far behind all the other UK regions.

Spending power rises for NI families
NI's shoppers have a few more pennies to spend this month. (© Getty)

Across the UK, households had an average of around £7 a week more in discretionary income in March than they did a year ago, according to Asda's latest income tracker, compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

Discretionary income is money left over after taxes and bills are paid to spend on "luxuries" such as holidays, sports, cinema tickets, dining out and savings.

This 4.3% annual jump in spending power is the most rapid rate of annual growth seen since autumn 2012, and it means that across the country families had around £170 a week to pay for non-essentials last month.

However, Northern Ireland's rate of £80 a week is much, much lower than other parts of the UK and is over half the amount available in other regions.

In Scotland, an average of £177 is spare each week while in Wales, it sits at £149.

All regions have seen an annual growth in their spending power, but the report said that "spiralling" living costs in London mean that the increase it is seeing lags behind the rest of the UK by comparison.

Household spending power in the North East has grown by 5.5% annually to the first quarter of this year, while in London it has edged up by just 2.8% year-on-year.

The gap between the level of discretionary incomes in London and those in the rest of the UK has narrowed slightly, from nearly 37% a year ago to just under 36%.

But despite the pick-up, the average discretionary income in the North East is still half of that of London households, where it now stands at around £231 a week.

The report said that as well as high living costs, discretionary income growth in London is more "subdued" due to a strong dependence on the financial and business services sector, which continues to see declines in pay.

Rob Harbron, senior economist at Cebr, said: "Robust economic growth is expected to continue, which means it is likely that discretionary incomes will continue to rise over the coming months."

A Treasury spokesman said: "Today's strong numbers from Asda are welcome news for hard working people in all parts of the country.

"Coming alongside last week's news of record employment, these numbers provide further evidence that the Government's long term economic plan is working and bringing greater economic security.

"These remain difficult times for families facing pressures on their budgets, and much work needs still to be done to build a resilient economy. But today's news supports the argument the Government has made all along that the only way to see rising living standards is to grow the economy."

© UTV News
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8 Comments
culchy in the stix wrote (181 days ago):
Must be that extra tenner a year NIE promised us making a difference?
Cath in Belfast wrote (184 days ago):
I have no idea how they came to this conclusion. I am worse off than I was 5 years ago. I am earning more but the cost of living as risen so sharply that I now have no disposable income and my work colleagues and friends agree.
Michael in Templepatrick wrote (185 days ago):
"but the region still lags far behind all the other UK regions"....... Well no change there. We have been and always will be the UK's embarrassing cousin from across the water that you want to keep at bay. What a biased 'union' we live under, no wonder Scotland want out.
What's that? in Bangor wrote (185 days ago):
What is discretionary/disposable income? Wish I had some to start with!
Bett Erhoff in South Belfast in Carryduff wrote (185 days ago):
Woman lost me this morning on radio when she complained that the last pair of school shoes she bought for her daughter were £90. Probably matched her iphone and ipad covers. She may also have a TV package that can't possibly be done without at £50 to £80 per month. I had to bring up 6 kids on a just above average salary that meant I got no handouts. But I was able to buy my own house and run a car on it. Budgeting should be on the school curriculum.
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