Ireland: one of the most expensive countries in Europe - C103

Image audioImage Ireland: one of the most expensive countries in Europe - C103

Our Head of Communications at bonkers.ie, Daragh Cassidy joined Patricia Messenger on Cork's C103 to discuss Eurostat's latest statistics, which show Ireland has some of the most expensive prices in Europe, coming in only after Denmark.

As a result of Ireland's high prices, there have been calls for a Consumer Affairs Minister to be appointed.

Irish prices are 40% above the EU average

According to Eurostat, prices in Ireland for everyday goods are 40% more expensive than the EU average. It’s probably not that surprising to a lot of people, but it doesn’t make it any easier to digest. 

The cost of living now in Ireland is higher than in other traditionally expensive countries, such as Luxembourg, Sweden, and Finland. Wages here are higher, but are they high enough? 

It’s only getting worse with inflation on the rise, as well.

Looking at the Eurostat figures

The Eurostat figures from the recent report are actually from 2021, not 2022. So what’s happened since the start of the year hasn’t been taken into account. 

Other countries have been subject to huge inflation as well, so it’s all relevant. 

One figure we rank poorly on is to do with alcohol and tobacco, where we’re by far the most expensive in the EU. Those figures would have been compiled before the Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol was brought in, which increased prices even further.

We’re also the fourth most expensive for hotel stays.

Could the Government do more between now and the October Budget?

The Government can probably do more in general. I do somewhat agree with the Government in that they can’t be coming out with new measures every day, every week, or every month. We can’t necessarily chase inflation.

Ireland is a high-wage economy, so we’re never going to have wine or coffee for €1. We shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to Bulgaria or Moldova. However, we don’t really seem to get much back for our high prices.

However, we are a very expensive country and some costs can and should be brought down. There are costs within the Government’s control, such as childcare costs, VAT, and excise duty on alcohol.

There are a lot of hidden costs as well, like stamp duty on home and car insurance policies. If you have a credit card, the Government charges a €25 stamp duty fee. If you pay motor tax and can’t afford to pay it in one lump sum for the year, you get penalised.

You can find out more about why Ireland is so expensive here.

Would a Minister for Consumer Affairs help?

The Government is very well represented by business interests, and that’s fine - it’s a good thing. We need businesses, as they create jobs, income tax, etc. But it feels as though the consumer isn’t well represented at Cabinet level. 

We have various ministers that represent various business interests, but we have no one that properly represents the consumer. 

We have a lot of Government agencies and semi-state bodies that are supposed to be looking after consumers but don’t. The telecoms regulator is CommReg, which doesn’t have enough power, but doesn’t seem to be demanding more power.

When Eir had very bad complaints about customer service CommReg essentially did nothing. 

We’ve also now seen a lot of price increases in that area, and suppliers seem to be copying each other, which seems to me like price signalling. All the communications providers are increasing prices by the rate of inflation, plus 2-3% every year.

Getting more out of our taxes

While other countries may also be expensive, consumers get a lot more for their taxes.

Even though the healthcare system in Ireland isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be, we don’t have free GP visits, like in other countries. 

Similarly, in some countries childcare is free, or only costs €100 or €200 a month, whereas here it can be €800-1,000 a month.

As well, public transport is expensive - and sometimes non-existent - in Ireland. It would be cheaper if the Government subsidised it more.

Start your savings journey

Unless you’re getting a 10% pay increase, you’re going to take a cut in your standard of living this year. One of the ways you can put money back into your pocket is by switching. 

We’d encourage people to look at switching energy and broadband provider to save money. Similarly, you can also review what you’re paying for your insurance costs, banking services, and even your mortgage

Even if you haggle and get a better deal with your existing provider, usually the price you get still won’t be as good as when you switch.

Stay informed to save money

While switching will certainly put money back in your pocket, you can also read our helpful articles to discover our top saving tips:

Keep an eye on our blog and guide pages for more helpful tips, personal finance news, and more.

Have any questions?

Do you have any questions about the cost of living in Ireland? If so, get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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