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Author: DSD
Published on 24 April 2014 11:00 AM

A bulletin entitled “Pensioners’ Income Series Bulletin, Northern Ireland 2011/12” containing statistics for the period April 2011 to the end of March 2012, was published today by Analytical Services Unit in the Department for Social Development.

The key facts include:

Income trends

  • Pensioner units (all pensioner couples and single pensioners) in Northern Ireland received on average £385 per week in gross income in 2011/12, which was a decrease of 8 per cent from 2010/11. Approximately half of this total (£199) was sourced from state benefits.
  • In 2011/12 mean net weekly income Before Housing Costs and After Housing Costs for all pensioner units in Northern Ireland was £332 and £316 respectively. This represents a 2-3 per cent increase from the 2003/04 levels (both Before and After Housing Costs) and an 8 percent decrease (both Before and After Housing Costs) from 2010/11 levels, in real terms. 
  • In 2011/12 median net weekly income for all pensioner units in Northern Ireland was £270 Before Housing Costs and £249 After Housing Costs. Median net income Before Housing Costs increased by 5 per cent between 2003/04 and 2011/12, and median net income After Housing Costs has increased by 3 per cent over the same period, in real terms.
  • Median net income After Housing Costs rose by 10 per cent between 2003/04 and 2010/11 before falling by 6 per cent between 2010/11 and 2011/12.
  • A three year average of weekly gross income for pensioner couples shows that in 2009/12 Northern Ireland was the lowest ranking region for gross income (£534) in the United Kingdom; this compared to Wales (£636), Scotland (£662), England (£648) and the United Kingdom average (£646). Single pensioners also had the lowest gross weekly income (£267) of all regions in the United Kingdom; this compares to Wales (£277), Scotland (£292), England (£313) and the United Kingdom average (£308).
  • In 2009/12, pensioner couples in Northern Ireland had the highest weekly benefit income (£234) of all regions in the United Kingdom, £13 per week higher than the United Kingdom average (£221). Single pensioners in Northern Ireland had similar weekly benefit income (£184) to the UK average (£182), England (£182) and Scotland (£183). Single pensioners in Wales had the highest benefit income (£191).

Income sources

  • 97 per cent of all pensioner units for the three year period 2009/12 were in receipt of state pension, 2 percentage points higher than in 2003/06.
  • In 2009/12, 31 per cent of pensioner units were in receipt of disability benefits and 14 per cent were in receipt of earnings from employment.
  • Almost a third (30 per cent) of all pensioner units during the period 2009/12 derived more than half of their gross income from private sources. This is 4 percentage points higher than in 2003/06.

Distribution of pensioners’ incomes

  • Median net incomes (After Housing Costs) of both pensioner couples and single pensioners increased in real terms between 2003/06 and 2009/12. The lowest increase was observed for those pensioners (singles and couples) with incomes falling within the bottom fifth of the income distribution.
  • Older pensioner couples were more likely to have lower incomes than younger pensioner couples. Almost a half of pensioner couples (48 per cent), where the head was aged 75 or over, had incomes (After Housing Costs) which fell into the bottom two fifths of the pensioners’ income distribution, this compared with 37 per cent of pensioner couples where the head was aged under 75.
  • For single pensioners, those that had recently retired were more likely to be in the bottom two fifths of the pensioners’ income distribution (45 per cent), than pensioners aged 75 or over (40 per cent) and pensioners aged under 75 (40 per cent) After Housing Costs.
  • Forty eight per cent of pensioner couples in Northern Ireland were in the top half of the overall United Kingdom income distribution in 2011/12 (After Housing Costs) compared to 45 per cent in 2003/04. This however represents a five percentage point reduction from 2010/11 (53 per cent). Forty one per cent of single pensioners were in the top half of the overall United Kingdom income distribution, the same level as in 2003/04.

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