Friday 24 May 2019

Rise in eating out costs helps drive highest level of inflation rate in 18 months

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Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

The higher cost for eating out was one of the reasons the inflation rate has hit the highest level in a year and a half.

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that consumers paid higher prices for alcoholic drinks and food consumed in licensed premises, restaurants, cafes and there was an increase in the cost of hotel accommodation.

This helped pushed the overall inflation rate up to 0.9pc, its highest level since April last year.

Higher costs in hotels and restaurants has been an argument for the controversial move in the Budget to increase the valued added tax (Vat) rate on the hospitality sector from 9pc to 13.5pc.

The CSO said prices in restaurants and hotels were 2.2pc higher in September compared with the same month last year.

Cabinet ministers have been forced to defend the 50pc hike in Vat on the tourism sector amid outrage in the industry at the budget measure that will raise €466m.

Representatives of hotels and restaurants have claimed rural businesses will be worst-hit and Tourism Minister Shane Ross has faced calls for his resignation.

Mr Ross insisted he had fought against moves to return the VAT rate to 13.5pc and sought to placate critics pointing to extra funding he says he secured to help the tourism industry.

But the new evidence of price hiking in the sector will make the case for the increase easier to defend.

Energy costs also went up, as suppliers have begun to raise prices for the second time this year.

Home-heating oil was 24.4pc dearer in September than the same month last year.

Electricity prices were up 13pc in the year, with domestic gas prices 9pc dearer.

And rental costs continue to be a problem, rising 6.1pc for private tenants in the year.

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