Families being devastated by rip-off rises in cost of living, says watchdog

Families are being devastated by rip-off rises in the cost of living, including a 30% surge in car insurance over the past year, consumer champions have warned.

Home insurance premiums rose 7% while payments for health insurance plans have risen 2% in the last year, latest official figures reveal. At the same time, people renting their home have had to endure an average 8% hike, while education costs — most notably for third level — have also increased.

Dermott Jewell of the Consumers Association of Ireland said that much of the population continues to struggle with rising costs which are “working against families”.

“The cost of living is rising, there is no question,” he said. “People are not necessarily better off at all. I hate to be miserable about it, but these are not good signs from January as to what will happen with the cost of living over the next six months.”

The figures show a widening chasm between home owners and private renters as the costs of private rents continued to climb. Private rents soared in the year, while mortgage interest costs have fallen 7.3%.

The huge housing costs chasm will likely widen further if new ECB measures widely expected next month were to keep mortgage costs here lower for longer.

Despite the entire hospitality industry being handed a special Vat cut in recent budgets, restaurant bills and hotel prices also continue to go up.

Mr Jewell said consumers believe that they are “being ripped off again”, with price hikes eroding any benefits people might receive in their pay packet.

The consumer association has called for an independent review into the motor insurance industry. Overall, the cost of living has risen by 0.1% in the last year.

Huge rises in some goods and services were offset by lower diesel and petrol prices as well as the dropping cost of buying a car.

Over the year, clothing was also cheaper — but mainly as a result of sales — while the price of food staples such as meat, milk, cheese, eggs, bread, and cereals also dropped slightly. This is down to cut-price supermarkets.

However, the price of vegetables has gone up, with the cost of potatoes jumping 10% at the checkouts over the past year.

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