By Niamh Hennessy
Thursday, November 03, 2011
STRUGGLING households are paying almost €1,300 more to clear their bills than a year ago.
This news comes as the country’s largest waste management firm, Greenstar, confirmed it was hiking prices.
Electricity, gas, insurance and mortgage costs have all soared in the past year — and pressure continues to pile on hard-pressed consumers to pay their bills.
ESB customers on the standard rate were paying on average €990 a year for their electricity. However, following the price rise in October, they can now expect to pay €1,116, an increase of €126 in the year.
Bord Gáis customers recently saw gas prices go from an average of €727 a year to €876, a jump of €149.
Households with electricity and gas can expect to pay an extra €275 per year, or €23 per month, for home energy than a year ago.
Greenstar’s 70,000 customers will see their bills increase by around €2.50 a month due to a Government landfill levy and a drop in the value of recycled material. Another price hike could come in July next year, when the Government is expected to increase the landfill levy again.
In the past year, insurance costs have gone up almost 13%. House insurance is up 0.3% and motor insurance has jumped 5.4%, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Food prices rose 1.1% in the past year, while clothes costs and rent have both increased 0.3%.
Simon Moynihan of Bonkers.ie said energy prices have risen by so much that even the cheapest gas tariff is more expensive than Bord Gáis rates before competition. "And even electricity customers who are on the best deals can expect prices to be almost as much as they were before the Big Switch.
"With prices at record highs, it is important for customers to make sure they are on the best deals. Half of households have never switched and the difference between the cheapest electricity rate and the highest is over €160 per year. For gas, the difference is €114."
Frank Conway of moneycoach.ie said many insurance costs have been feeling "upward pressure" as a result of a range of factors.
"Certainly, the severe weather of last winter caused an increase in house claims. On home and car insurance, we often found the home insurance costs increased by €70 to €100 a year," he said.
Health insurance rose 22.4% in the past year, according to the CSO and Mr Conway estimates that costs have increased by €800 for a family with the VHI Plan B with options.
In the past year, the ECB raised interest rates twice. This represents monthly increases of €60 for a €200,000 mortgage. However, individual banks also increased charges over the year, with one lender announcing a 1% rise at the start of 2011. In such cases, mortgage holders with a €200,000 mortgage saw their monthly repayments up by about €120 a month.
Meanwhile, the Society of St Vincent de Paul spent €75m last year on people experiencing poverty and exclusion. It has warned that those getting help from the charity had no more to give in the budget.
Increases in the past year:
- Health insurance — €800
- Gas — €149
- Electricity — €126
- Insurance — €100
- Mortgage repayments — €100
*Figures based on average bills