independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

We're optimistic for the economy -- but not ourselves

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MOST people expect the economy to pick up this year, but the property tax means they will not be any better off, a new survey reveals.

The first full year of the property tax will leave homeowners out of pocket to the tune of around €300 each.

This will mean most householders will continue to struggle to make ends meet in 2014, according to a survey of 26,000 people carried out by AA Ireland.

But a majority feel the economy is on the move again, with job creation and the country's exit from the bailout putting people in an optimistic frame of mind about the overall economy.

Most people feel we have reached the bottom and it is time to spend again.

AA Ireland's director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan said that, if it were not for the property tax, people would be far more optimistic about their own financial circumstances.

He said the results of the survey appeared to be contradictory, with people positive about the economy, but cautious about their own financial circumstances.

"The economy is the aggregate of all of us so this does seem to be a contradiction," said Mr Faughnan.

"The main reason for this appears to be property tax -- lots of people said that they would face this major additional bill while their incomes stayed the same."

WORSE

He said that when talking about their own circumstances, a lot of people mentioned the local property tax and also a general rise in utility bills and in health insurance costs.

Four out of 10 of the respondents said they felt that Ireland's economy would improve, even if only slightly, in 2014.

Just one in six felt it would get worse.

"We were surprised that people seemed positive, yet a lot of the comments received said that they saw signs of improvement in the economy," he said.

However, when asked about their own personal circumstances, people were much more pessimistic.

Only 17pc of people believed that their own finances would get better, while 38pc said that their personal situation would be worse.

Many said that they were on fixed incomes -- like pensions or social welfare benefits -- that would at best stay the same, while their living costs would increase.

The coming year will see people paying a full year's property tax for the first time, and although the first domestic water bills will not land until 2015, people are also worried about the impact of these charges coming down the line.

Men were a little bit more positive about next year than women. More than four out of 10 men felt the economy would improve as opposed to only one-third of women.

In Dublin, people are more upbeat about the national prospects for the coming year.

Some 44pc of Dubliners felt the Irish economy would improve, while 14.3pc felt it would get worse.

Irish Independent

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