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Northern Ireland Civil Service redundancy scheme to start soon


Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has said the executive plans to launch a voluntary exit scheme for civil servants on 2 March.

Mr Hamilton told the assembly that civil servants selected for voluntary redundancy would leave between 30 September this year and 31 March 2016.

The Minister told MLAs that the anticipated savings would be about £26m this year and £88m per year thereafter.

Mr Hamilton said the figures were based on the closure of 2,410 posts.

In answer to a question from Ulster Unionist MLA Sandra Overend, Mr Hamilton acknowledged that there was a "degree of risk" in the scheme.

He said one risk was that it might be under-subscribed.

However, he said that "anecdotal evidence" suggested there would be no such problem in the first one to two years of the four-year scheme.

He said there would be many civil servants for whom voluntary exit would not work now, but might work in the third or fourth year.

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No doubt it will mainly be civil servants within a few years of retirement taking this up, who have been praying for a redundancy exercise to top up their pension pots.

In which case I doubt there's any saving at all...

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PwC Northern Ireland economic outlook: 'Few signs' of wages recovery


The firm's Northern Ireland economic outlook predicts 1.7% growth in 2015; less than other forecasters estimate.

It says that job creation has almost returned to pre-recession levels.

However, the report says overall economic performance continues to lag behind other UK regions.

It adds that the Northern Ireland economy "remains heavily reliant on consumer expenditure".

PwC's chief economist in Northern Ireland, Dr Esmond Birnie, said: "Measured by new job creation and falling unemployment alone, Northern Ireland is demonstrating strong recovery; however a number of other factors are of concern.

"While the region's unemployment fell by 19.8% in 2014, that fall was only about half that of the UK average, where the jobless total declined by 32.5%.

"NI's economic inactivity rate is 27.8% and remains the highest of the 12 UK regions.

"In the past year the growth in the number of economically inactive was actually greater than the total decline in unemployment."

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Northern Ireland household incomes 'show biggest fall in UK'


Typical household incomes in Northern Ireland were 4% - or £860 - below their pre-economic downturn level last year, according to a new study.

The think-tank Resolution Foundation said that represented the sharpest fall anywhere in the UK.

It said Northern Ireland has been overtaken by the North East, Wales and Yorkshire and the Humber and now has the lowest household incomes in the UK.

It said official data on incomes was either flawed or out of date.

The think-tank said typical household incomes in Northern Ireland were £21,794 on the eve of the economic downturn.

Northern Ireland then experienced the sharpest fall in living standards of anywhere in the UK, with typical incomes falling by 6.7% (or £1,470 a year) between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

Living standards have recovered steadily since then but were still £864 below their pre-downturn level in 2014, according to the study.

Further increases are expected this year.

It said the weak performance of Northern Ireland was due in part to it having a relatively sluggish jobs recovery compared to the rest of the UK.

Its current employment rate is still 2.1% lower than in early 2008.

Northern Ireland also suffered the biggest real pay squeeze of anywhere in the UK, with typical hourly wages falling by 13.4% between 2009 and 2014, compared to a UK figure of 9.3%.

The Resolution Foundation has also said there was a big generational divide in experiences of the downturn.

Typical incomes among pensioner households were 9.4% above their pre-downturn level last year, while working age households were still 4.6% down.

Laura Gardiner, of the foundation, said: "Northern Ireland experienced the biggest fall in living standards of anywhere in the UK, with typical incomes falling by almost £1,500 between 2008 and 2012.

"This is largely down to the pay squeeze workers faced. Typical incomes have recovered since then but there is a long way to go before they return to pre-downturn levels.

"There are also considerable generational differences behind this headline fall in living standards, with pensioner households likely to have fared far better than those of working age.

"This makes it hard to talk about living standards in a way that resonates with people's experiences across Northern Ireland."

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Northern Ireland household incomes 'show biggest fall in UK'


Typical household incomes in Northern Ireland were 4% - or £860 - below their pre-economic downturn level.

I think most people would be happy that their income was just 4% lower that it was at the height of the boom. Basically, going by this report it fell £1,470 and has since recovered almost half that. The average household is now £16 per week below the boom income.

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Northern Irish families are still worst off in the UK


Even though Northern Ireland is still seeing the strongest percentage growth (15.1%) it lags behind the UK average in monetary terms.

The report showed that factors affecting spending here include the fact Northern Ireland has the highest percentage of minimum wage workers compared to other regions.

The average salary here trailsicon1.png behind the UK average of £22,044 by more than £3,000.

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Shocking of Northern Ireland debt time bomb laid bare


Almost 250,000 people in Northern Ireland are facing a debt time bomb - but are doing little or nothing about it.

Citizens Advice is particularly concerned about a generation of buyers who have never experienced an interest rate rise and whose monthly mortgage repayments could increase significantly if that happened.

"First-time home-buyers would struggle to find an extra few hundred pounds a month when rates eventually start to rise," Ms McKenna said. "A recent report commissioned by the Department of Social Development showed that the repossession rate in Northern Ireland in 2015 was four times higher than in Britain, and it is predicting that the number of households at risk of repossession will rise from 15,000 last year to 32,000 by 2018."

Borrowing jumped ahead of Christmas, Bank of England says - (UK)


The amount of money being borrowed by consumers in the run-up to Christmas rose by £1.5bn, the largest rise for nearly eight years. In November, consumers owed a total of £178.2bn on credit cards and loans, figures from the Bank of England show. The monthly increase was the largest since February 2008 and compares with a rise of £1.2bn in October.

It also comes at a time when consumers are saving less. In the last quarter of 2015, the ONS said households saved 4.4% of their income, the equal lowest ratio for 50 years.

George Osborne warns mortgage holders: Be prepared for interest rates rise this year


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Consumer confidence in UK at lowest level in 15 months, survey suggests

UK - relatively small sample


The latest survey of 2,000 people conducted in the first two weeks of April showed confidence dropped in all the areas measured: their personal financial situation, their view of the UK economy and whether now was a good time to make big purchases.

Fears of households over-stretching on borrowing as consumer credit grows


The Bank's Money and Credit report showed consumer credit increased by £1.9 billion in March, compared with an average of £1.4 billion over the previous six months.

The figures also showed consumer credit recorded a 12-month growth rate of 9.7% in March, up from a rate of 9.5% in February and the highest rate recorded on this measure since late 2005.

Peter Tutton, head of policy at StepChange Debt Charity, said: "Consumer credit has again risen rapidly and this is an area of growing concern.

"Slow wage growth and the rise in insecure jobs have left millions of households financially vulnerable and we have already seen an increase in the number of people coming to us for debt advice in 2016.

"If consumer credit continues to rise quickly, it risks increasing the vulnerability of households who are already struggling to make ends meet.

"The last time consumer credit increased at this rate was in the lead-up to the recession, when credit was widely available and many households became seriously indebted.

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  • 298 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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