FERMANAGH’S growing number of ‘just about managing’ families are set for a painful start to 2017 with rising prices set to cause real hardship.
That’s the stark warning from Jonathan Hayward, manager of the local branch of Christians Against Poverty (CAP) who specialise in helping people on lower incomes, including thousands of people across the county.
He told the Herald that while many people will be struggling to make ends meet as they cope with the rising cost of Christmas, after the festive season the picture could be even more worrying.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has already predicted that workers will earn less in real wages in 2021 than they did in 2008.
It also predicted that households will be some £1,300 a year worse off as a direct result of the decision to leave the EU.
The bad news is that the biggest losers over the next few years will be lower income families. For those in Fermanagh, who are already living in a county that is home to the lowest paid workers in the North, the next twelve months at least look set to be a struggle.
Statistics confirm that workers in Fermangh are the lowest paid in Northern Ireland, which is the region with the worst wages in the UK.
According to the IFS, the biggest income squeeze in recent years will be felt by by younger workers and their families on low and middle incomes.
Reduced pay growth, an accelerating rise in living costs and a freeze in the main working age benefits and tax credits are to blame.
Mr Hayward says with no increase in average incomes on the cards and the cost of living spiralling, the outlook for 2017 looks bleak.
“Definitely people are struggling. The biggest problem in the area is getting work with the lack of jobs and those who do have them are struggling to hold on to them.
“Yet for those who do have jobs, they appear to be very low paid and people then struggle on an inadequate income.
“Getting adequate wages is definitely a problem and even by trying to increase their hours doesn’t lead to very much extra in terms of rewards. Next year is going to be a very hard year for many because of rising energy prices, inflation and many will be struggling. ”
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