Friday 22 September 2017

How childcare and college costs are putting the squeeze on a million adults

Seven out of 10 35 to 54-year-olds have children. More than a third pay for childcare, while more than two-thirds pay towards their children’s education. Stock photo
Seven out of 10 35 to 54-year-olds have children. More than a third pay for childcare, while more than two-thirds pay towards their children’s education. Stock photo
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

High childcare fees and the cost of sending children to college mean there has been no recovery for one million adults.

The pressure on the squeezed middle comes despite the economy growing so strongly that there are fears of it overheating again.

But another million people say they are living comfortably, according to a new Aviva Family Finances Report.

People most likely to be under financial pressure are those in the 35 to 54 age bracket.

These people are heavily indebted and are under financial pressure from crèche fees and the cost of education.

Seven out of 10 35 to 54-year-olds have children.

More than a third pay for childcare, while more than two-thirds pay towards their children's education.

People feeling the pinch are likely to live outside Dublin and have been impacted by wage cuts and job losses.

Nine years of austerity have hit the million in the middle hard.

Those struggling are likely to have bought homes during the height of the property boom.

They are so heavily indebted that they will still be paying off mortgages after they retire.

Despite the upswing in the economy, just 25pc of those surveyed feel they are benefiting from the recovery, the Red C research for Aviva found.

The head of pensions and investments at Aviva, Ann O'Keeffe, said the under-pressure group had borne the brunt of the economic crash.

"This key group is experiencing a financial 'mid-life crisis' as they juggle their responsibilities and liabilities to keep their heads above water," she explained.

She said two in three strugglers see no immediate prospect of their income improving and many of them will have to find a way of funding their retirement.

"Their plight deserves the attention of those working on future pension policy," Ms O'Keeffe added.

Many of those who are under the cosh financially have credit union loans, with around one in seven forced to borrow money from family and friends.

By contrast, those under the age of 34 and over 65 are faring much better.

The younger age cohort is the most positive in outlook, with large numbers expecting their income and employment prospects to improve.

By far the most fortunate financially is the 65-plus age group. Some 44pc of people in this age bracket say they are living comfortably.

People who consider themselves to be comfortable are likely to have deposit accounts and a credit card.

Some four out of 10 of those in the financially comfortable category have pensions. Third-level educational attainment is a feature of this group.

And almost one in four of those living comfortably has stocks and shares, while a third has savings and investments products.

The findings that so many people are struggling to make ends meet come despite most people telling researchers they feel the economy is performing well and that a recovery is under way.

But more than half say they are neither comfortable nor struggling and can be assumed to be getting by.

This equates to 1.6 million of the population and as a group they are more pessimistic about their outlook, with almost 60pc seeing no improvement in their financial circumstances.

The Aviva-commissioned survey also found that 49pc of people expect their salaries to increase, with 34pc expecting pay cuts.

The new Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Michael D'Arcy, has said that forcing workers to pay 50c out of every euro earned above €33,800 is both "shocking" and "unheard of".

He believes the point at which workers enter the higher income tax bracket will be increased to €40,000 over a number of years.

Mr D'Arcy said the focus of the Budget must be on making up for what he described as a "lost decade".

Credit card shake-up

A new credit card provider has been launched, the second in weeks.

Avantcard is offering those who sign up with it attractive terms if they transfer a card balance from another provider.

It comes after Chill Money, the lending business of Chill Insurance, launched a credit card.

Avantcard is aiming to poach customers from other providers with its new Mastercard offering.

The Spanish company acquired the Leitrim-based MBNA business in 2012, but has not taken on new credit card customers since it bought the card business.

Avantcard is now offering attractive terms to encourage heavy users of credit cards to move to it.

Those transferring a balance are being offered what the company is calling a '3-6-9' credit card. This involves 0pc being charged for three months on purchases with the card.

Irish Independent

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