More in our pockets - but it's not exactly seventh heaven

The UK is set for the highest inflation of the world’s G7 advanced economies this year and next despite the cost of living rising at far slower pace, according to new OECD forecasts
Pound coins Northern Ireland households were £7 a week better off in January, according to the latest Asda Income Tracker (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Households in the north had an extra £7 in their pockets in January after all taxes and essential bills were paid.

Figures in Asda’s latest Income Tracker reveal that the average household disposable income here rose from £103 the previous month to £110.

And while that’s the highest in almost two years as inflation slows, it still leaves the region very much the UK’s poor relation.

Overall disposable in the UK rose by 6.1% year-on-year to £230 a week in January, marking the strongest figures since March 2022 and the 10th consecutive month of annual growth.

At £110, Northern Ireland retained its customary position adrift at the bottom of the league of UK regions, behind England’s north east (£147), West Midlands (£186) and Wales (£188).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Londoners had £318 a month to blow after paying their bills, ahead of the east of England (£249) and Scotland (£230).

Asda said factors such as weaker food price inflation and the recent change to national insurance contribution rates have improved the take-home pay for working households.

Asda Income Tracker
Disposable income by UK region, according to CEBR data for Asda (Gary)

Sam Miley, managing economist and forecasting lead at CEBR, which produce the Income Tracker for Asda, said: “January’s results were the strongest for some time, with average household spending power increasing to £230 a week.

“And we expect spending power to continue growing in 2024, supported by a generally more positive economic outlook.”

He said it is not an equal picture of improvement across the UK.

“Middle income households are witnessing the most robust growth as result of these improvements. Their income grew by 15.6% when compared to the same period a year earlier, to £254 a week.

“In stark contrast, the lowest earning households are still the only group witnessing a fall to negative discretionary income.

“Their income decreased by 0.5% year-on-year, with a £69 a week shortfall. This means their take home pay is not enough to cover spending on bills and essentials.”