ONE in four Irish people have less than €18 a week after bills are paid but the Government is still keen to push through a new household charge.
The income tracker survey from the Irish League of Credit Unions found that 23pc, or 805,000 people, now have just €70 left each month after clearing essential bills.
And 50pc of all adults admit that they are unable to meet their financial obligations each month and are forced to pay at least one bill late.
But as hundreds of thousands of individuals are struggling to make ends meet, the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan is still keen to bring proposals on the household charge to Cabinet next Tuesday.
The charge looks likely to be between €100 and €200 a year.
This means that homeowners will be squeezed even further when they face two new bills -- the household charge from January 1 and domestic water metering after that.
The EU-IMF bailout team outlined terms which meant that the Government must introduce property and water charges as soon as possible.
But it will take too long to introduce site valuation to implement the property tax, so the household charge will be an interim measure.
It was initially believed that the household charge would be set at €100 a year.
If that was applied to the State's 1.8 million households, up to €180m could be raised within the space of a year.
But if a higher rate was introduced it would cut out those in receipt of social welfare from the scheme as they would be exempted from the charge.
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said that how the charge would be introduced is still up for discussion by Cabinet.
Mr Gilmore said "the idea of a household charge" was one of the options.
But chief executive of the Irish League of Credit Unions, Kieron Brennan, said that their survey shows just how hard the ordinary people of Ireland are being hit by increasing household expenses and will be under enormous pressure in the months to come.
"We have reached the mid-2011 mark and the crisis for families across the country is escalating," Mr Bannon said.
"Even more people with only a small percentage of their income left feel like there is no future for themselves or their families in Ireland."
The survey found 15pc of people had difficulties making ends meet, while 8pc said their income did not cover essential bills.
Some 36pc said what they had left after paying for essentials had decreased since March, while 60pc said it had fallen since this time last year.