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Electricity bills are the most common cause of headaches for households, a survey says, Light switch photo via Shutterstock
Cost of Living

56pc of Irish homes 'go into debt to pay essential bills'

Research from uSwitch says over half of Irish homes have to dip into savings, or borrow money, to make ends meet.

OVER HALF of Irish homes are forced to go into debt to pay essential household bills, while a similar amount have to borrow from friends or family – or spend their savings – simply to make ends meet, new research has claimed.

Data from price comparison service uSwitch found that 56 per cent of Irish homes said they had used credit cards, overdrafts or the services of doorstep lenders to meet the costs of their everyday household bills in the last 12 months.

A slightly higher number, 57 per cent, told a survey that they had dipped into savings, or borrowed money from family and friends to meet their essential bills.

Nearly half of respondents, 43 per cent, said they had resorted to using facilities on credit cards or taking out a bank overdraft to pay their essential bills, while nearly one in ten were taking out formal bank loans simply to pay their bills.

Electricity bills emerged as those which caused the most stress for householders – with 62 per cent of households saying they felt under major financial pressure from energy costs, particularly as most providers increase their usage charges.

63 per cent of respondents to uSwitch’s survey said rising energy costs had taken their toll on the level of disposable income they had, and had left them with little or no cash to spend after bills were taken care of.

“The continued hikes in energy prices are having a major effect on Irish households and their finances,” said Eoin Clarke of uSwitch.ie.

“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.”

Clarke suggested that by shopping around and by opting to pay bills through direct debit, customers could cut over €250 a year from their electricity costs.

Read: Food and drink prices down over 6 per cent since 2008 – Retail Ireland

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