Tuesday, February 12 10:12:52
More than half - 56pc - of Irish households are forced to go into debt to pay their essential household bills, according to a survey from price comparison and switching service, uSwitch today.
Over four in ten (43pc) are resorting to credit cards and overdrafts, while almost one in ten (9pc) are using bank loans to pay bills, it found.
In addition, over half of Irish households (57pc) admit to dipping into savings or getting financial help from family and friends in order to meet these essential payments.
The findings reveal the true impact on households as they struggle to stay afloat in these tough times. As the financial squeeze tightens, consumers are being forced to raise cash to pay their bills however they can. This is causing huge concern for many, with the rising cost of electricity one of the biggest culprits - over six in ten (62pc) households feel major financial pressure from this energy bill.
The continued hike in energy prices in Ireland has seen an increase in the number of people cutting back or rationing their energy use, uSwitch said.
Over six in ten Irish consumers (63pc) also state that the rising cost of energy has impacted greatly on their disposable income, leaving little or no extra cash or disposable income left after paying their energy bills. This further emphasises the push for consumers to shop around to ensure they are getting the best value for money when it comes to their household bills.
"The fact that consumers are being forced into debt to pay their household bills demonstrates the huge financial pressure that people are coming under in 2013. As the cost of living soars, incomes are failing to keep pace, leaving many households struggling to keep their heads above water. This is why it's so important that consumers now ensure that they are paying the least amount possible on their essential bills as this will put some much-needed cash back into their pockets," said Eoin Clarke, Head of uSwitch.ie.
"The continued hikes in energy prices are having a major effect on Irish households and their finances. It is important to ensure that consumers are paying the lowest possible price for their energy bills and also cut down on any unnecessary energy usage in order to save some money. By paying energy bills by direct debit or through an online plan, you can easily cut back on the amount you spend. You could save as much as E254 a year just by switching energy suppliers alone."