People living in Northern Ireland experience some of the highest poverty rates in Europe, a consumer report has revealed.
The new report, entitled 'The Price of Being Poor' and released on Thursday by Northern Ireland’s Consumer Council, shows that those who earn the least are paying more for everyday goods.
It reveals that fuel poverty is one of the biggest problems facing households, with Northern Ireland having one of the highest rates in Western Europe.
The new report estimates that the number of households living in poverty has peaked at 300,000 in recent years.
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The research document offers a series of recommendations for tackling spiraling costs affecting people living on the bread line.
"It is scandalous that those least able to pay are receiving the worst deals,” Chief executive Antoinette McKeown said.
"The Price of Being Poor report emphasises the vicious cycle between poverty and debt. This needs to be addressed immediately - we all have a responsibility to make sure no extra disadvantage is placed on those already struggling."
Some of the main points include:
-An estimated 50% of households here suffer fuel poverty.
-Averages wages in Northern Ireland are £357.60. That's £39 less a week than UK average.
-The cost of filling a car with diesel and petrol jumped by around £200 between May 2010 & May 2011.
-72% of survey respondents on low incomes have no life insurance.
The full report is available here.