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Every week, the average Irish household spends €845. Here's where the money goes

The CSO has published its Household Budget Survey 2015/16, providing a breakdown of spending across the country.


THE CENTRAL STATISTICS Office (CSO) has published detailed results of its 2015-16 Household Budget Survey, showing how Irish households spend money on a week-to-week basis.

The headline figure is that Irish households spend more than they did when the last survey was undertaken in 2009-10, up 4.3% to €845.12 a week.

The average income for a household meanwhile, was up 6.8% to €1,097.04.

Unsurprisingly, we’re devoting more of our budget to housing – either renting, mortgage or other – since the last time the survey was done, accounting for almost 20% of our average weekly spend.

We’re also spending more on transport – up 7% to €124.39 a week – and a larger proportion of our overall budget (14.7%) on getting from A to B.

The average Irish household now spends €28 a week on alcohol and tobacco, a dramatic fall of 29%.

Here is a breakdown of the average Irish household’s weekly spending:

  • €123 on food (including €26 on eating out)
  • €50 on medical costs
  • €34 on clothing and footwear
  • €28 on alcohol and tobacco
  • €33 on holidays
  • €124 on transport
  • €37 on pensions
  • €164 on housing

A smaller proportion of household income, however, is being spent on food – down from 16.2% in 2009/10 to 14.6% in 2015/16.

chart (1) Source: CSO

Historically, the trends towards spending more of our budgets on “miscellaneous goods, services and other expenditure” continues. This category covers things such as health, childcare, education, pensions and telephones.

In 1980, households spent 20% of their budget in this category. In 2015/16, however this was now 34.2%.

The proportion of our budget spent on housing has also risen strongly. In 1999/2000, it was under 10% of our budgets. Now, it is 19.4%.

Renting vs Owning

Crunching the numbers, households owned with a mortgage spent the most per week, which on average was €1,164.82.

In lone parent households, meanwhile, over a quarter of their expenditure (26.7%) was spent on housing.

chart (2) Source: CSO

Those in the private rental sector, meanwhile, tended to spend more of their budget on housing. At 28.1%, private renters were spending more than those with a mortgage, for example, who only devoted 22.6% of their budgets to housing.

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chart (3) Source: CSO

In terms of household facilities, only two thirds of people have a fixed telephone. In 2009-10 it was 70.2%, now it’s only 65.9% of households.

The stats also show that more of us have mobile phones, internet access and burglar alarms, but less have piped gas, a motorcycle or a second home.

Commenting on the figures, The Society of St Vincent de Paul expressed worries on the housing figures.

It said in a statement: “The implication of rising rents is reflected in the experience of SVP members on the ground who are visiting individuals and households trying to keep pace with unsustainable rents and are continually faced with the threat of homelessness.”

SVP also stressed that the high proportion of income from households in disadvantaged areas on things such as food, clothing and fuel showed that supports are essential.

It added: “This highlights the continued importance of income supports such as the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and Exceptional Needs Payment in reducing the financial burden of basic goods and services on low-income households.”

The Household Budget Survey was undertaken between February 2015 and February 2016, covering 6,839 households.

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About the author:

Sean Murray

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