Households 'struggling to pay bills'
New research by the Irish League of Credit Unions published today shows 1.59 million adults in Ireland now have just €50 or less at the end of the month once all essential bills have been paid.
A survey by the credit unions found 46 per cent of consumers struggle to pay their utility bills on time, with 34 per cent saying they had sacrificed spending on food to pay their gas and electricity bills. Rising energy costs were contributing to the problem, with 40 per cent
of adults forced to reduce energy consumption to save money.
Some 85 per cent of adults said they were worried about not paying their bills on time.
The budget announced by the Government in December has also impacted the majority of adults, with eight out of 10 claiming their finances had been negatively affected by it. Only 2 per cent said the decision taken by the Government would not affect them, and 15 per cent said it was not as bad as they feared.
The budget cut child benefit rates, raised motor tax and increased student registration fees for third level education.
However, the two measures likely to affect most people were the introduction of a property tax and changes to the PRSI threshold.
Irish people continue to be squeezed and many are simply continuing to struggle to survive on a daily basis, Irish League of Credit Unions chief executive Kieron Brennan said.
"One of the most worrying pieces of data emerging from the December tracker is the number of people who are aware of moneylenders operating in their community, the number who have been approached and very seriously the number of people who are aware of intimation by moneylenders," he said. "People are desperate – desperate to pay their bills, pay their rent and put food on the table and are turning to these people who in turn charge exorbitant rates of interest – usually those who enter into a money lending arrangement gets themselves into a vicious cycle of debt."