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Cost-of-living crisis: CSO says inflation is now at a 38-year high

It’s the largest annual increase since 1984, with fuel costs again driving the price spikes.

IRISH CONSUMER PRICES increased by an average of 7.8% in the 12 months to May — the fastest pace in nearly 38 years — up from 7% in the year to April.

It’s the largest annual increase in the consumer price index since 1984 when annual inflation was marginally higher at 7.9%

Consumer price inflation has been rising at an annual pace of 5% or more since October 2021, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Soaring energy costs are driving the price rises with electricity now 41% higher than this time last year. Gas is 57% more expensive and solid fuels are up 26%.

The largest increase is seen in home heating oil which has more than doubled in cost, recording a 102% rise.

The annual change in transport costs reflects a rise in the cost of diesel (+41.6%), petrol (+25.9%), purchase of motor cars (+13.2%) and airfares (+45.4%) compared to May 2021.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett is one of the organisers of a Cost of Living Coalition on Saturday 18 June, and stated today that radical action is needed to address the cost of living crisis.

“With the twin crises of the cost of living and the housing crisis spiraling completely out of control, there is a total lack of urgency on the part of this government to take serious action.

“We urgently need controls on the prices of basic goods and utilities and serious action on the issue of unaffordable rents and house prices. Wages and incomes need to be protected an increased.

“The Government are failing to respond to this crisis in any serious way. That is why we need people to get out on the streets to protest and demand action.”

The protest is supported by Dublin and Waterford Trades Councils, the National Housing and Homeless Coalition, as well as by Sinn Fein, People Before Profit, and Independent TDs.

Saint Vincent de Paul also stated that today’s figures were of “significant concern” for families as it recorded over 78,000 calls for help so far this year – approximately a 20% increase on last year.

Dr Tricia Keilthy, SVP Head of Social Justice said: “Data from the ESRI and Central Bank clearly shows the disproportionate impact of rising prices on low income households.

“Social welfare rates should act as a lifeline, keeping people on low and fixed incomes afloat in sea of rising living costs. Increasing them ahead of inflation is the only way to protect people. This should be a first step in a wider plan to strengthen our social protection system making it more resilient to economic shocks and allowing people to live with dignity.”

The price of groceries has also jumped significantly in the past year. The national average price for a loaf of sliced pan bread was up over 12 cent, while brown sliced pan was up more than 17 cent in the year.

A 500g packet of spaghetti is now 19 cent more expensive than last May. However, the average price for a 2.5kg bag of potatoes dropped by 28.5 cent.

On a monthly basis, the cost of housing and amenities such as electricity, water and gas rose 3.7% since April. However, transport costs fell 1.7% – mainly due to lower air, bus and rail fares. 

The Central Bank forecast in April that price growth would peak at an average of 7.7% during the second quarter of this year and remain above 7% in the third before declining to 5.1% in the final three months of 2022. 

The stats have been released as the European Central Bank is expected to announce the end date to its bond-buying stimulus today, as a prelude to hiking interest rates for the first time in over a decade.

Meanwhile, a new rate tax band of 30% is being considered to help with the rising cost of living.

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