More than 100,000 children in Northern Ireland are living in poverty, shocking new figures have shown.
The grim statistics were laid bare in the Households Below Average Income annual report 2013/14, which was published by the Department of Social Development yesterday. It showed the average (median) household income here dropped by 1% to £404 a week, or £21,100 annually, before housing costs are taken into account – which represents a fall for a fifth consecutive year.
Economist John Simpson said the report showed that people here were worse off than in other regions. “Northern Ireland is still an area with living standards well below those for the rest of the United Kingdom,” he said. “In particular, the trend is the number of working-age adults on lower incomes has tended to increase when it has been decreasing in the rest of Britain.”
The widening wealth gap in Northern Ireland was also evident from the research, with the richest households having 3.6 times more income than the poorest.
The most affluent fifth of the population has benefited from a 6% increase in income in the past year, while households in the bottom fifth have seen their income fall by 6%. For example, the income of the wealthiest households went up from £726 to £772, while the poorest saw it drop from £224 to £211.
That’s because people working in professional occupations have done better in the recession than those in unskilled jobs and on low pay, according to Mr Simpson.