Disposable income down €356m

Household disposable income levels fell by a combined €356m or 0.4% last year, figures show.

Preliminary estimates published by the CSO show the average combined gross disposable income of households amounted to just over €88.8bn, as of the end of 2011.

This was down from the just under €89.2bn recorded at the end of 2010.

Unsurprisingly, the latest figures also show a significant enough drop in consumption expenditure levels — with consumer spending falling by 1.2%, or €945m, during 2011, from €79.3bn in 2010 to €78.35m.

According to the CSO data, the gross savings ratio — which expresses savings as a percentage of gross disposable income — increased from 13.4% to 14.1% over the course of the last year. In the fourth quarter of 2011, that measure jumped from 2.8% to 6.3% on a year-on-year basis.

However, the latest data also showed that on the capital side of things, investment by the Government last year amounted to €5.3bn, while there was also a substantial capital transfer of €5.8bn relating to bank recapitalisation.

However, last year did see some improvement in the Government’s savings deficit — with the annual figure going from a deficit of €13.02bn in 2010, to a deficit of €10.63bn by the end of last December.

Taken together with the Government investment figure, this means that there was a net borrowing requirement of just over €21bn for Government as of the end of 2011.

The drop in the Government savings deficit was attributed by the CSO to higher taxes — particularly levies on income and wealth; which at a combined €18.34bn, showed an increase of almost €2bn last year.

Yesterday’s quarterly institutional sector accounts follow up on recent findings from CSO boffins showing that retired people saw their household disposable income rise by nearly €500 last year, while households where the main breadwinner was a recent college graduate saw their disposable income drop by over €17,000.

Social Justice Ireland last week , warned Government that poor and vulnerable members of Irish society are taking a “disproportionate” hit in the latest budgetary adjustments being made.


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