Household spending power in Northern Ireland 'by far lowest in UK'

Households in Northern Ireland have just £93 a week left over when all their bills are paid, according to the latest Asda Income Tracker. Picture: Hugh Russell
Gary McDonald Business Editor

HOUSEHOLDS' spending power in Northern Ireland is fast diminishing as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

The region endured the UK's largest percentage fall in discretionary household income in the last three months of last year, according to the latest Asda Income Tracker.

Money left over after all priority bills were paid declined in the north by a whopping 27.6 per cent year-on-year to an average of just £93 per week - less than half the UK average of £209.

That marks a seven-year low and maintains the north's ignominious position at the bottom of the UK's league table.

It's the third quarter running the available spend total for Northern Ireland has sat below £100, following the figure of £93.50 in quarter two and £95.10 in quarter three (it was £127 in the first quarter of 2022).

It comes as official inflation data for December, published last week, showed UK food prices were 16.8 per cent higher than a year earlier, a rate not seen since September 1977.

The Asda tracker, which is independently compiled by Cebr, reflects the amount remaining after all essential items such as groceries, electricity, gas, transport costs and mortgage payments or rent are paid.

That then indicates what cash is left over for discretionary purchases such as leisure activities (eating out or trips to the cinema for instance), and recreation goods and services.

Spending power fell in every UK region in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared with the same period a year earlier, underlining that no area is immune from soaring costs.

Across the UK as a whole, the amount households had to spend on themselves fell by 11.4 per cent during to an average of £209 a week, compared to £236 a week in Q4 2021.

Asda says it will continue to support customers during the cost of living crisis by keeping prices in check and helping budgets stretch further, and it follows a Which? report showing it was the cheapest UK supermarket for the big family shop in 2022.

The supermarket has recently launched a new initiative where customers can cook seven evening meals for a family of four for under £20 using ingredients from its Just Essentials value range.