THE number of people unable to pay household bills on time is rising, new research has found.
Cash-strapped householders are having to hold off on making payments on mortgages, loans, utility bills and telephone and TV services.
A new survey from the Irish League of Credit Unions shows that four out of 10 adults admit they have fallen behind on household bills.
Spending has had to be sacrificed in other areas to pay essential bills, according to the research carried out for the credit unions by iReach. A third of households report spending less on food to ensure there is enough money to cover the cost of mortgages and loans.
Also getting the chop in the family budget are nights out, holidays and entertainment.
Spending on home improvements, club memberships and extra-curricular activities for children has also been reduced.
But there has been a slight rise in household disposable incomes.
The average working adult has €205 a month left after paying tax and the main bills, which is up from €188 in May.
Households have a net income of €2,604 a month, a slight rise from the May figure.
Despite the improvement in incomes, the survey showed that around 1.18 million adults have just €50 or less left at the end of the month after they had covered the main household expenses.
This is out of a total of 3.45 million adults.
But there are now 21,000 fewer people who have €50 or less left over each month.
Close to half a million adults have nothing at all left after providing for their day-to-day spending, according to the Irish League of Credit Unions
In May, there were slightly more people with nothing left.
More than one-third of households have given up at least one form of insurance in the past year. Most likely to be ditched is health insurance, followed by life insurance and then travel insurance.
One in five said they had stopped paying for home insurance – a decision that would leave them exposed in the event of a fire, a break-in or a major domestic accident. Six out of 10 people are not in a position to save money in a bank or credit union. But for those who can set funds aside, the average amount is up and stands at €187 a month.
The survey also reveals that hard-pressed householders are considering opting for pre-paid electricity meters in a bid to control costs.
Although consumers are aware that electricity prices are higher when a pre-paid meter is used, most feel such devices will give them more control over their usage.
League chief executive Kieron Brennan said householders were stretched to their limits trying to manage the household budgets.
"This round of research shows us that nearly 40pc are still struggling to pay their bills on time."