Half of NI’s households are in a worse financial position compared to a year ago

Northern Ireland’s lowest earning households have seen their discretionary income fall by almost a third (29.5%) over the last year from £28.12 to £19.83 per week.

These figures come from the Consumer Council’s latest Northern Ireland Household Expenditure Tracker, which is published on a quarterly basis and now tracks changes to income and expenditure for households in Northern Ireland across four income groups (quartiles).

The Tracker shows how 50% of Northern Ireland households have seen their spending power eroded over the last year to March 2023, with the lower two income groups seeing their discretionary income decrease by 6.3% to £75.78 per week and 29.5% to £19.83 per week respectively.

The Northern Ireland Household Expenditure Tracker also found that Northern Ireland’s lowest earning households in Quartile 1 have been the worst affected.

In Q1 2023 (January to March), these households:

  • saw their weekly income after tax rise by £2.90 (1.2%);
  • experienced weekly spending on basic goods increase by £2.44 (1.1%);
  • spent 54% of their total basic spending on Food, Rent, Energy, and Transport; and
  • saw their discretionary income rise marginally 2.4% from £19.37 to £19.83 per week.

These households continue to spend proportionately more of their income on Food, Rent, Energy and Transport, all areas that have experienced increasing prices over the last year.

Despite this marginal increase across the last quarter of data to March 2023, these households have seen their spending power eroded by 29.5% to £19.83 per week when looking across the last year, putting them in the worst financial position across all four income groups in Northern Ireland.

Anne-Marie Murphy, our Director of Strategy & Emerging Markets said: “Our lowest earning households continue to be affected by the cost of living crisis and are in a much worse off position than 12 months ago.

“Even though it is the first quarter in two years where discretionary income has risen for the lowest earning households, this marginal increase follows seven quarters where it fell consecutively, and in an environment where the cost of basics continues to rise.

“This expanded Household Expenditure Tracker considers all Northern Ireland households, and worryingly, it shows that 50% of Northern Ireland Households have less to spend after all essential bills are paid. For many of these consumers, just one unexpected bill is all it takes to cause financial difficulty.

“To help consumers, we offer a variety of support and advice including interactive tools to compare energy costs and advice on how to reduce your bills and make your money go further.

Read the Northern Ireland Household Expenditure Tracker report 

  • Cost of Living