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Misery as fuel and insurance bills soar

CASH-STRAPPED consumers face further misery with the announcements that energy and health insurance prices are set to soar.

Homeowners this week learned they would be slapped with a €100 Government household charge from January, and now major health insurance and gas providers are to hike prices.

Electricity customers of Bord Gais face increases of 12pc from Monday, while gas costs are set to spiral by more than 20pc from October.

The news comes just over a week after the Government announced plans to smack motorists with additional tolls on all of Ireland's major roads.

On top of this, Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton yesterday paved the way for low-paid workers to have their premium pay rate slashed on Sundays.

Dermot Jewell, chief executive of the Consumer Association of Ireland, described the revelations as "extraordinary".

"The idea that consumers can simply absorb one increase after another is totally unrealistic. These increases will not only hurt consumers, but they will also affect business because people will have far less to spend," he said. "We are getting to the situation where people simply cannot afford to pay their way."

Bord Gais yesterday applied to the Commission of Energy Regulation for a massive 28pc gas hike from October 1. The Commission instead granted increases of around 22pc.

Those who avail of both gas and electricity from Bord Gais face yearly increases in the region of €300.

Meanwhile, Health Insurer Aviva is set to push up the cost of its Level Two Hospital plan by 9.5pc for those who are renewing their policies from September onwards.

The move will see families of two adults and two children forking out an extra €186 a year for health insurance. It is the second major increase by the health insurer this year.