One in four in arrears on bills

ONE in four families were in arrears on at least one bill or loan last year compared with just one in 10 in 2008, as the recession continues to squeeze ordinary families.

Stark figures released by the CSO show that last year more than one-third of households with a gross weekly income of between €401.68 and €662.02 had arrears on at least one bill or loan. This compares with 15% of households in the same income bracket in 2008.

More than 23% of households within this income category were in arrears on “other bills”, such as health and education, just under 7% had arrears on hire purchase or other loans, almost 10% were in arrears with their mortgage or rent and close to 17% were in arrears with their utility bills.

In 2009, 17% of households in the highest weekly income bracket of €1,567.20 had arrears on at least one bill or loan, compared with fewer than 2% of households in this bracket the previous year.

Arrears on “other bills” were the most common experienced by households, followed by utility bill arrears where close to 10% of all households were falling behind in payments.

The survey found that last year almost 48% of households stated that they would be unable to meet an expense of €1,085 without borrowing. More than 11% of households had to go into debt in 2009 to meet ordinary living expenses. This figure was up from just over 9% in 2008.

In 2009, just under 10% of households stated they experienced “great difficulty”, just over 14% experienced “difficulty” and almost 38% experienced “some difficulty” in making ends meet

Also last year, more than one in four households stated housing costs were a heavy burden and over half said housing costs were somewhat of a burden.

Policy worker and support worker with the European Anti Poverty Network Ireland Paul Ginnell said the survey showed the Government was only paying “lip service” to protecting the vulnerable.


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