The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has this month announced the results of the final 2011 ‘What’s Left’ disposable income tracker index. The main aim of the tracker is to take a step away from macro economic statistics and data and report on the real struggles of the people of Ireland.
In each of the trackers in 2011, disposable income continues to shrink. Last year was extremely tough for Irish people with financial pressures as a result of continued austerity measures and increasing costs, becoming a worrying burden for families and individuals alike. Strict management of the household budget will go a long way in ensure that spending is kept under control and prioritized in 2012.
The highlights and main points from this round of research highlight the key issues that families and individuals are most concerned about for the year ahead.
The VAT increase, fuel and energy price increases and a possible further increase in health insurance will have had a significant impact on the spending ability of the Irish population this year. In fact our recent tracker has shown that the increased costs of energy and fuel alone have negatively impacted the spending ability of 86% of Irish consumers, not good news for the economy for 2012.
The study shows that overall Irish disposable income remains under pressure for the majority of Irish people. 70% feel that the amount that they have left over after paying the essential bills each month has fallen during the last 12 months with working adults in particular finding that their disposable income is decreasing or not stretching as far as it had been at the beginning of the year.
48% of Irish adults continue to find it difficult to save money in the current environment, this figure remains on par with findings throughout 2011. The numbers of those who have the ability to save in December 2011 have fallen slightly since the September tracker with the amount a person can save also on the decrease.
A huge concern at the moment is the increasing costs of private health insurance. For hard pressed families though, there is only one option it seems. When questioned about private health insurance in the tracker survey, of those that have private health insurance - 9% stated that they will have to give it up in 2012 because they can no longer afford it. A further 31% say they will be forced to give it up if there are any further price increases. It is now more important than ever for people to familiarize themselves with their health insurance policy and their entitlements and review whether they need every part of their cover and instead of dropping it altogether, look and see if another policy is more suitable.
55% of consumers now struggle to pay their bills on time. This is a marked increase from the 42% in the September tracker. TV license, bin charges and TV / Telecoms are the most likely bills to be put off by consumers.
While the survey makes for grim reading, we feel that it is important to show the daily struggle of the ordinary people of Ireland, the challenges they face and the worries they have as we look to in 2012 and we cannot underestimate the difficulties that lie ahead. As always, we urge those who find themselves in financial trouble or those who are feeling some sort of financial stress to contact their bank or credit union to review your situation and work out a budget plan for the year ahead. The earlier you do this the better.