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Editorial: Bulk of the pain is on middle class

MIDDLE-income families are flagged as the group who are feeling the most pain in the downturn. Already squeezed by rising unemployment, thousands of families are struggling in a quagmire, unable to repay their mortgage.

We are now seeing more accountants, lawyers, architects and office workers standing in the dole queue than ever before.

In a bid to stem outgoing payments, we are seeing that middle-income families are continuing to slash non-essential payments.

The Health Insurance Authority revealed that as much as 10,000 people, or 800 per week, gave up their private health insurance in the second quarter of this year, while retail sales dropped by 0.1pc within the last year.

But the only advice Minister Eamon Ryan can give is to advise customers to move from the ESB to a private firm to make "immediate savings".