The average household now receives €217 in social welfare and other state payments every week, an increase of over 70% since 2005.
The extent to which homes have become dependent on welfare payments to make ends meet has been laid bare by a report which shows rural families are most in need of financial help.
The figures from the Central Statistics Office show the average home now receives €217.20 in social welfare payments weekly, up from €125.41 in 2005.
The dependence in rural areas is far greater, with direct payments up 87.4% in the five years — from €124.11 to €232.59.
In the same period, the average weekly household direct income — made up of wages and occupational pensions — fell by 6.1%, from €862.55 to €809.56.
The CSO Household Budget Survey also found people are spending less on food to cope with the rising cost of keeping a home.
Average weekly outgoings on mortgages, rent and housing maintenance have rocketed by 56% from €94.51 in 2005 to €147.73 in 2010.
Five years ago, when the same survey by the CSO was carried out, food accounted for the greatest single expense.
But money spent on groceries has dropped from €142.74 a week to €131.28.
Now, housing costs account for the largest chunk of weekly bills, at just over 18% of the average household’s overall expenditure. There was also a marked weekly drop of 16.3% in money spent on alcohol and tobacco.
The overall average household budget — covering everything from food, alcohol and tobacco, to housing costs, clothing, fuel and transport — was €810.61 in 2010.
That represents a 3% hike in family budgets over a five-year period.
According to the survey, spending on food and clothing has steadily declined over the last 30 years, while money spent on housing has gradually increased.
However, while families are struggling to cope and are cutting back on holidays, charitable donations and medical costs, they are still putting money aside for some of life’s luxuries. Despite a fall in alcohol and tobacco expenditure, one in three homes also has a games console — a category not included 10 years ago — and three in four have a computer, up from one in four at the turn of the century.
Households are also increasingly switching from landlines to mobiles. In the past decade, the number of homes with landlines has fallen from 89.2% to 70.2%, while the percentage with at least one mobile phone has risen from 44.3% to 96%.
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