Cost of Christmas dinner rises more than three times as fast as Newry, Mourne and Down wages
The cost of a Christmas dinner has risen more than three times as fast as monthly wages in Newry, Mourne and Down over the past two years, analysis suggests.
The Trades Union Congress said a plan must be made to jumpstart the economy as working people struggle to cover costs this Christmas.
Using Office for National Statistics figures on inflation, the Stop the Squeeze coalition estimated the cost of a traditional Christmas dinner has risen 30% over the past two years.
Meanwhile, recent ONS data on wages shows the median monthly income for people in Newry, Mourne and Down has risen 10% from £1,788 in November 2021 to £1,962 last month.
It means the Christmas dinner bill has grown 3.1 times faster than wages in the area.
Paul Nowak, TUC general secretary, said: "While supermarket wars may mean some items are not as expensive as others this Christmas, let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture.
"We can’t go on like this. Working people should not be struggling to put food on the table and buy presents for their family."
He said a plan is needed to "jumpstart" the economy and added there is a need for a change of government.
Sabine Goodwin, director of the Independent Food Aid Network, said food banks in its network are working to support increasing people on low wages, in insecure work, and with "inadequate" social security payments.
She added: "Not only is the cost of a Christmas dinner unaffordable to many this year, but more and more people are facing destitution.
"It's time to prioritise building a fairer society based on an equitable tax system, ensuring a living income and a healthy standard of living for all."
Separate estimates from the Centre for Economics and Business Research project the average household will spend £550 this Christmas, up from £480 in 2022.
It means this year's festive bill would take up 28% of the average person's monthly salary in Newry, Mourne and Down.
Cebra said one of the main drivers in rising costs this season is food. The analysis suggested the average household will spend £135 on food this Christmas, up by £26 compared to 2022.
"Other key components of the festive basket, including toys, games, and clothing, are expected to see expenditure around a fifth higher in 2023 than was the case in the prior year," the independent economic consultancy said.
A Treasury spokesperson said recent ONS figures for November show inflation has fallen to 3.9%.
They added: "That was by no means guaranteed at the start of the year when inflation was in double digits, and is proof that our plan is working.
"But prices are still rising too quickly, which is why we have put in place one of the largest cost of living support packages anywhere in Europe, and are supporting low paid workers with a record increase in the National Living Wage and cutting taxes so that people can keep more of what they earn."