The Pensioners’ Income Series Bulletin, Northern Ireland 2014/15 is released

Date published: 22 February 2017

A bulletin entitled “Pensioners’ Income Series Bulletin, Northern Ireland 2014/15” was published today by the Department for Communities (DfC).

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The Pensioners’ Income Series Bulletin, Northern Ireland is produced annually by DfC and contains estimates of the levels and trends of pensioners’ incomes in Northern Ireland.

Key facts include:

Pensioners’ Income

  • Pensioner units (all pensioner couples and single pensioners) in Northern Ireland received on average £444 per week in gross income in 2014/15. Between 2013/14 and 2014/15 gross income increased in real terms by £29, which equalled an approximate 7% increase – this followed a decrease, so is now at a similar level to 2012/13.
  • Similarly, net income Before Housing Costs (BHC) increased by 7% for the mean and 10% for the median. Mean net income After Housing Costs (AHC) increased by 8% (£343 to £369) and median net income AHC increased by 8% (£268 to £289) between 2013/14 and 2014/15.
  • Mean gross income (the central measure of all income received by the pensioner benefit unit) has increased by £57 (15%) in real terms over the time period 2003/04 and 2014/15 (£387 to £444).
  • Over a three year average (2012-15) pensioner couples in Northern Ireland had the second lowest gross income across the four UK countries (£618), £70 lower than the UK average; the lowest gross income was in Wales (£551).

    Single pensioners in Northern Ireland over a three year average (2012-15) had the lowest gross income across the four UK countries at £270, £54 lower than the UK average.                                                                    

Sources of Income

  • In 2014/15, benefit income (which includes but is not limited to state pension and state pension credit) accounted for the largest proportion of gross income for pensioner units (51%, £227);
  • The next largest proportion of gross income for pensioners was pension income. When combining both Occupational pension and personal pension income this accounted for 28% of gross income for pensioner units;
  • The most common source of income for pensioner units is state pension; with 98% of pensioner units claiming this.
  • Fifty-two per cent of pensioner units receive income from private pensions; 46% receive income from occupational pension income while only 8% have income from a personal pension.

Distribution of pensioners’ incomes

  • Older pensioner couples are more likely to have net incomes within the bottom two quintiles of the NI pensioner income distribution (AHC). Forty-four per cent of pensioner couples where the head is aged 75 or over are in the bottom two quintiles, compared to 38% of pensioners where the head is aged under 75.
  • Only 14% of pensioner couples where the head is aged 75 or over have incomes falling within the top quintile, while 20% of recently retired pensioner couples, and 22% of pensioner couples where the head is aged under 75 have incomes in this quintile.
  • The proportion of individuals living in pensioner units in the bottom quintile of the overall UK population income distribution (AHC) in 2014/15 was 12%, which has decreased from the 2003/04 level of 19%.
  • The proportion in the top two quintiles in 2014/15 was 38%, an increase from the 2003/04 level of 32%.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistics contained in the publication are derived from the Family Resources Survey in Northern Ireland. This survey collects detailed data on income levels, resources and financial circumstances of individuals and households for the period from April 2014 to the end of March 2015. The FRS has been carried out in Great Britain since 1992, but 2002/03 saw the introduction of Northern Ireland for the first time.
  2. Households interviewed in the survey are asked a wide range of questions about their circumstances. Although some of the information collected is available elsewhere, the FRS provides new or much more detailed information in a number of areas and brings some topics together on one survey.
  3. Although the Pensioners’ Income Series is specifically of interest to DfC, other government departments and outside researchers will benefit from the availability of such a data source.  The Family Resources Survey database can be accessed through the UK Data Service
  4. Reports for the UK are available on the DWP website and for Northern Ireland ou our Family Resource Survey page
  5. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Communities Press Office on 028 9082 3503 or email: Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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