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Consumers in the north the most pessimistic about UK economy, says report

CONSUMERS in the north are most pessimistic about the prospects for the UK economy, according to a new report.

Analysis from Which? for 2018 shows that two in five people (42 per cent) in Northern Ireland believed the UK economy was in a poor state last year, while almost two-thirds (60 per cent) expected it to deteriorate in 2019.

By contrast, across the UK as a whole, only half (49 per cent) anticipated the economy would worsen.

Of chief concern was rising fuel prices, cited by three-quarters (74 per cent) of local respondents, compared to two-thirds in the UK (68 per cent).

Brexit was highlighted by seven out of 10 (71 per cent) consumers as a worry, along with public spending cuts, both to a greater degree than in the UK as a whole.

Energy bills and the cost of groceries were also among the most common worries for consumers in Northern Ireland.

More people in the north expected to increase spending on everyday essentials compared to consumers across the UK, according to the report, while hikes were also forecast in the cost of groceries and in relation to rent or mortgage payments.

In spite of the plethora of issues raised by consumers in the north, 71 per cent said they were satisfied with their life overall, compared to two-thirds UK-wide (65 per cent). Local people were also happier about their household financial position, with over half (51 per cent) describing it as good,

just above the UK figure of 49 per cent.

Caroline Normand, Which? director of advocacy, said the latest figures for Northern Ireland were concerning.

“This report highlights a worrying sense of pessimism among consumers in Northern Ireland, with Brexit, fuel costs and public spending weighing on people’s minds more than anywhere else in the UK,” she said.

“With uncertainty around Brexit and Stormont politics looming large, politicians, regulators and businesses in Northern Ireland must take heed of these findings and work to ensure consumers are not getting a raw deal when it comes to essential services.”

Source: Irish News

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Just 36% feel confident in UK economy, report finds

Consumers’ confidence in the UK economy has slipped back to its lowest level since January 2018 – but people’s optimism regarding their own finances is holding up – a report has found.

Just over a third (36%) of people surveyed across the UK in December 2018 felt confident in the UK economy, the Lloyds Bank spending power report said.

This was the lowest percentage recorded since January last year – although it is a much more positive reading than in March 2011, when just 7% of people felt confident towards the UK economy.

The latest survey found that half (54%) of people felt pessimism towards inflation and even more (60%) were downbeat about the UK housing market.

Despite caution about the wider economy, people are feeling resilient about their personal finances, the survey found.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) feel good about their current situation – close to a peak of 68% recorded in September 2018.

More than four fifths (82%) feel secure in their job and 78% are happy with their level of disposable income.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of people think they will have more disposable income in six months’ time – although they are inclined to save it, with 73% planning to do this rather than spend it, with 43% expecting to make purchases.

Nearly half (47%) would pay off existing debts with any extra cash.

Robin Bulloch, managing director of Lloyds Bank, said: “While it is not the first time we have reported the resilience of people’s personal finances it has never been set against a backdrop of such heightened economic uncertainty.

“It’s really positive to see that people are able to feel confident in their own finances.

“At times like this, managing your money smartly remains key.”

More than 2,000 people aged 18 to 75 were surveyed for the latest report in December 2018.

Source: Yahoo Finance UK