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Sunday 26 February 2017

Middle class hammered by the rising cost of living

Armed with the results of the latest 'Sunday Independent'/KBC Bank Cost of Living Survey, Nick Webb reveals who is escaping scot free and who is getting completely strangled by rising prices

The middle classes

Cost of living over 2011 Up 1.3 per cent

2011 national average Up 4.1 per cent

The "squeezed middle" is taking a pummelling, with the cost of living for these former tiger cubs rising far faster than the CSO national average, according to the latest Sunday Independent/KBC survey. Over the past six months, the increase has speeded up and is now three times the national average.

The D4 redbrick is worth around 65 per cent less than it was five years ago -- but the massive mortgage is still 14.1 per cent dearer.

Education is eye wateringly pricey, especially since third-level fees were whacked up. Second-level fees are 0.8 per cent dearer.

Glugging back that organic pinot noir from the specialist wine shop is only marginally cheaper, with prices down 0.8 per cent. But restaurant prices are 2.1 per cent down.

However, looking good is more of an effort, with bling and jewellery rising by 7.5 per cent in the year. Dresses and sharp Italian suits are 1.3 per cent dearer but at least dry cleaning is 0.9 per cent cheaper. Health and spa treatments have also risen but hairdressing is 5 per cent cheaper.

Getting a boob (or even a "moob") job is 9.8 per cent dearer than it was last year. But having your gnashers whitened or straightened is a little cheaper. Alternative medicine and other remedies are about 1.5 per cent dearer. Paying for all of these might be a problem as health insurance has risen a thoroughly ridiculous 22.9 per cent in a year.

The need to have a new Beemer or Land Rover is bolstered by a 2.6 per cent drop in car prices but car insurance has risen -- not as much as motor bike cover, though, which is up 14.7 per cent.

Playing golf or sailing is also better value, with sports participation costs down 6 per cent and club membership falling by 0.3 per cent over the year.

SOCIAL WELFARE RECIPIENTS

Cost of living over 2011 Up 1.3 per cent

2011 national average Up 2.5 per cent

The hundreds of thousands of people surviving on the dole or other state benefits may be living in grim conditions -- but they are suffering proportionately less than almost everyone else from rampant cost inflation.

Their cost of living has risen half as fast as the national average over the past year and has actually fallen 0.2 per cent over a two-year timeframe.

Public transport is up noticeably, especially through the 10 per cent hike in bus fares. Bicycles are more than 5 per cent cheaper than they were a year ago. Heating and electricity costs have also risen sharply.

The jump in food prices has hurt with some major price rises for stuff like sugar (up 31.7 per cent), butter (up 9.6 per cent) and eggs (up 6.9 per cent). But some food items are much cheaper. Potatoes are down 3.7 per cent, with fresh fish falling 0.3 per cent and bread down 0.2 per cent.

YOUNG FAMILIES

Cost of living over 2011 Up 4.6 per cent

2011 national average Up 2.5 per cent

Young families are suffering the worst from the soaring prices, with the past 12 months witnessing their cost of living rising at almost double the national average, according to the latest Sunday Independent/KBC bank survey. It's been getting even worse over the past six months, too.

The staple diet of fish fingers and chips has also got pricier, with frozen fish up 2 per cent and frozen vegetables up 0.9 per cent over the last year. Fizzy drinks are 5 per cent dearer, with fruit juice also up by 2.5 per cent. On the plus side, ice cream and other puddings are 2.9 per cent cheaper.

Childcare also got dearer over the past year, rising by 1.4 per cent, with education costs jumping 8.9 per cent over 12 months. Most of this was due to increases in university fees.

Medical bills are, as a whole, 2.6 per cent up since December 2010 with most of the increase down to vastly inflated hospital charges. Non- prescription drugs have risen slightly but doctors' fees are down.

But at least entertaining young families will cost less, as games and toys are a chunky 8.3 per cent cheaper, with equipment for outdoor activities such as camping down 3.5 per cent. But Fido or Sparky is dearer, as pets and all their bits and bobs are 1.9 per cent more expensive.

PENSIONERS

Cost of living over 2011 Up 3.6 per cent

2011 national average Up 2.5 per cent

Having avoided much of the rising costs in recent years, pensioners are now getting it with both barrels as their living costs rocket by far more than the national average. Over the past six months, the average pensioner's cost of living has risen 1.9 per cent, compared with a national average of just 0.5 per cent.

Food prices are up 1.2 per cent over the past year, hitting pensioners. Biscuits are 0.3 per cent down, but tea prices have risen 5.8 per cent. Baked beans and other tinned vegetables are up by 7.2 per cent. Booze is 1.8 per cent cheaper, but cigarettes and other tobacco products rose in price by 4.3 per cent over the year.

Heating costs have gone through the roof, with electricity and gas up by ugly figures. Coal and solid fuel rose by just 0.2 per cent.

Shoes are 2.9 per cent cheaper, with clothing repairs also down by a similar amount.

STAY AT HOMERS

Cost of living over 2011 Up 0.7 per cent

2011 national average Up 2.5 per cent

Grown-up kids who still live at home have by far the lowest increase in their cost of living over the last year -- in fact it's actually fallen over the last six months.

The key reason is that they dodge the hefty increases in mortgage interest rates and the 1.6 per cent increase in rents. Paying nasty bills like electricity (up 11.2 per cent) or natural gas (up 20.5 per cent) are not on the radar either.

Instead they can get wellied for less, with beer down 1.4 per cent and spirits down 0.1 per cent. It's fun, fun, fun for the stay at homers with nightclub admittance 6.8 per cent cheaper and cinema tickets down 2.6 per cent. Rock gigs or comedy shows are also better value, with "cultural admittance" costs 6 per cent cheaper than a year ago.

The latest gadgets or smartphones are that bit cheaper too. Laptops or personal computers are 21 per cent cheaper, with mp3 players 7.5 per cent down over the year. Mind you, the cost of phone usage has risen 1 per cent, probably because you've downloaded about a million apps on that new iPhone.

Catching up on Georgia Salpa's latest carry on or wondering if Russell Brand and Katy Perry will find happiness again is also cheaper, with glossy magazines and periodicals 0.9 per cent cheaper. Books are a bit more expensive though.

Getting hair removed from where the sun doesn't shine and other "personal grooming" is 2 per cent more expensive than it was a year ago.

But hair gel is 1.9 per cent cheaper and deodorant is 5 per cent less expensive.

FIRST-TIME BUYERS

Cost of living over 2011 Up 4.5 per cent

2011 national average Up 2.5 per cent

Mortgage interest rates are up 14.1 per cent in a year hitting new homeowners hard. However, the recent falls in ECB rates have softened the blow somewhat.

First-time buyers living in commuter towns are also hugely exposed to oil prices, with petrol a major outgoing. Petrol is up 5.8 per cent in the last year with diesel up a staggering 11.3 per cent in a year.

Fixing up the house is a little cheaper, with carpets and other textiles around 9.9 per cent less expensive over the last year. Sofas, dining room tables and other furniture are also 4.9 per cent cheaper.

RENTERS

Cost of living over 2011 Up 1.0 per cent

2011 national average Up 2.5 per cent

The trend of rents falling over the last couple of years has ended, with rents rising over 1.6 per cent in the last 12 months but renters are still the least exposed of any category to inflation hikes.

Public transport costs are dearer but air travel is 5.7 per cent less expensive.

Small electrical devices such as toaster, kettles or whizzers are 1.6 per cent cheaper.

Staying in to watch the box isn't as cheap as it used to be, with television services about 0.8 per cent cheaper.

Sunday Indo Business

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