UK families’ disposable income remained flat in December 2012 after six consecutive months of increases, data released today has shown.
According to the latest Asda Income Tracker, the average family’s weekly disposable income stood at £144 in December, the same amount as in December 2011 but £10 less than two years ago.
Rob Harbron, a Cebr economist, commented: “Although it remains encouraging that households are no longer seeing sharp declines in discretionary income, December’s Income Tracker figures show that risks remain for UK consumers.
“Pressures on discretionary incomes at the end of 2012 came from high energy price hikes, mortgage and rental costs and food price inflation, factors that are likely to continue into the coming year.
“In addition, income growth remains weak, as the UK economy struggles to grow enough to drive significant pay increases.”
Private-sector wage growth was at its lowest since July 2010 in December, standing significantly lower than inflation at 1.4 per cent, as energy prices rose by 3.8 per cent during 2012.
Disparity between regions also became more obvious in the final quarter of 2012, particularly between London, where the average family had a weekly disposable income of £274, and the rest of the UK.
The North East of England claimed the fastest growth in the UK, rising by 6.2 per cent to £126, while a rise in unemployment in Northern Ireland caused average weekly disposable income to fall by 7.1 per cent year-on-year to £77.
Commenting on the results, Asda President and CEO Andy Clarke said: “The latest tracker paints a pretty bleak picture.
“Our customers are no better off than a year ago, and are significantly worse off compared to two years ago.”
“The recent cold snap will be piling even more pressure on family incomes with energy prices continuing to rise,” he added.