Sharp growth in north's spending power, but still lowest in the UK

Pictured at the Asda Income Tracker round-table event at the Riddel Hall are: CEBR managing economist, Kay Neufeld; Asda senior director for Northern Ireland, George Rankin; and compere, Jamie Delargy.
Gareth McKeown

THE north has reported sharp growth in household spending power, but discretionary income remains the lowest in the UK, according to the latest research.

The Asda Income Tracker, compiled by CEBR and covering the final three months of 2018, has revealed an increase in family spending power of 5.5 per cent on the previous quarter - the fastest growth of all UK regions.

However, the £109 per week of discretionary income - the money left to spend after tax and essential bills, is almost half the UK average and the lowest out of all regions.

Households in the UK as a whole reported a 4.7 per cent at the end of the year, which equates to £207 per week in discretionary income – the strongest annual growth recorded since August 2016.

A fall in the north's unemployment rate to 3.5 per cent at the end of the year and a 3.2 per cent rise in income growth during the same period are cited as key drivers in the additional spending power.

In relation to the latter the recent growth rate was above London and only slightly below the UK average.

CEBR managing economist, Kay Neufeld said the latest figures make good reading for Northern Ireland families

“After a lost year in 2017, households across the UK have seen healthy gains in the Asda Income Tracker in 2018. The positive developments in the labour market have translated into sustained wage growth of over 3 per cent and with inflation falling back, households are left with more money in their pocket.

“The improvements have been particularly felt in Northern Ireland, where in the fourth quarter of 2018 family spending power increased by more than in any other country or region in the UK.”

George Rankin, senior Northern Ireland director at Asda added:

“It's great to see that the available weekly income is finally on the up and the gap between Northern Ireland and other UK regions is narrowing. There may be uncertainties ahead, but Income Tracker clearly indicates that we're making progress.”

In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Income Tracker report, Asda hosted a business briefing at Belfast's Riddel Hall yesterday to reflect on the past decade and look to what 2019 will hold for local families' spending power.

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