The costs of rents and car insurance are likely to be thrust back into the political spotlight as official figures showed that these were the only two items in the cost-of-living basket that have continued to soar.
The costs of renting reached their highest levels in March since records began, and have risen for each of the past three months despite the introduction of the Government’s new rent controls late last year. Rents are now 36% more expensive than December 2011.
“This reflects the ongoing mismatch between supply and demand in the residential property market,” said Investec Ireland chief economist Philip O’Sullivan.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said in the Dáil earlier this week that “urgent action” was required to control the housing crisis.
Overall, the Consumer Price Index showed prices across the CSO’s basket of goods and services rose only 0.4% in the month, and that prices have dropped 0.3% from March 2015.
Some food items fell as much as 5% in the past year; transport costs fell by almost 6%; while clothing and footwear and household utility bills also dropped.
The high costs of rents and other items in the Irish economy featured during the election campaign. Analysts say that with so few new homes being built that rents will likely continue to rise.
Meanwhile, the costs of car insurance continued to surge — premiums were up 3.9% in March alone — which means car insurance is almost 33% higher than a year ago.
Consumer advocacy groups have long argued that such price hikes are unacceptable because drivers by law are required to buy insurance. Insurers claim the costs of doing business in Ireland are exceptionally high.
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