Most polled blame the Government for economic woes


MOST PEOPLE blame the Government for our economic problems rather than banks or financial institutions, a new survey shows.

A total of 39 per cent of adults claims the Government is at fault for the ongoing crisis, compared to the banking industry (19 per cent), the Central Bank (12 per cent) and corporate greed (7 per cent).

The figures are part of an international survey of economic confidence across 19 countries.

The poll in Ireland was conducted by Behaviour Attitudes during February this year and involved 990 people in Ireland aged 15 or more. Polls in other countries were conducted by members of the International Research Institutes Network.

The proportion of people blaming the Government is significantly higher in Ireland compared to the global average of 24 per cent.

There is near unanimity in Ireland that the Government’s response has been inadequate. Some 78 per cent say it is not doing enough, while just 12 feel it is doing enough.

The same pattern is reflected in a largely negative attitude towards the EU’s response, with people in Ireland more critical than those in most other EU countries surveyed.

When asked whether they support a free market or more government involvement, people are ambivalent, with most saying they don’t know.

Just 15 per cent say the free market works well, while 29 per cent say more government involvement is better.

When asked about how they will adjust their spending in light of the economic crisis, people in Ireland say holidays and luxury goods are the first thing they will cut, followed by eating out.

Medication or rent/mortgage payments are among the areas people are least likely to cut back on.

However, we are less likely than other countries to cut back on spending in areas such as food or clothes.

A breakdown of figures indicates that the greatest impact of the downturn is being felt among younger and middle-aged people, particularly those with families. Older age groups are mostly like to say they are less affected.

The economic slump is also affecting the way all income groups spend their money.

In fact, the only significant class-based difference is in the area of utility bills, with more working- class people more likely to delay paying compared to those on higher incomes.

Despite the gloomy sentiment, a majority of Irish say they are not yet struggling to make ends meet.

Fifty-six per cent disagree that they are struggling to make ends meet, compared to 41 per cent who agree.

The proportion struggling in other countries is considerably higher.

However, hardship is more concentrated among younger people and those in working-class households in Ireland, where just over half say they are struggling.

In a global context, Ireland is below the average, similar to the UK. Those most likely to agree that they are struggling are people in Portugal, South Korea, Thailand and Greece.

Most people in Ireland have a particularly gloomy outlook on the country’s future economic prospects.

The vast majority of people in Ireland – particularly those under 35 – feel things have never been worse.

Overall, some 71 per cent agree that the situation is the worst in their lifetime. The figure rises to 81 per cent among under-35s and falls to 54 per cent among the over-60s.

Irish people are distinctly more likely to feel the economy has never been worse compared to people in other countries.

The only countries where figures are higher are the US, with a total of 89 per cent believing things have never been worse, followed by South Korea, Thailand, Spain and the UK.

About half of people in Ireland feel now is a bad time to start spending (46 per cent). However, we are marginally ahead of the global average, where more people are negative about spending money.

Most of the adult population in Ireland believes things will be worse in six months than they are now, particularly those aged between 35 and 64. Just 7 per cent believe things will have improved during this timeframe, compared to 59 per cent in the US.