Ireland bottom of the Western Europe happiness index: Shoppers on Grafton Street, Dublin city centerGoogle Images

Irish people are beginning to despair for their country – with more than half a million people convinced there is no future for their families in Ireland.

New research highlights just how difficult it is for families living through the nightmare of the recession to cope with the demands on their finances.

The figures, reported by the Irish Examiner, show a significant rise in those who have no money left after paying their monthly bills.

The total for those who don’t have enough cash each month to cover essential household bills has gone up by 70,000 since March while the survey found eight per cent of the population, or 280,000 people, believe that their income does not even cover bills like mortgage and electricity.

A total of seven per cent, about 245,000 people, have nothing left after paying their essential bills each month while 23 per cent, or 805,000, have just $100 left in disposable income.

The figures, collated in June, suggest that 1.2 million people have less disposable income in their pockets this year compared to the same period in 2010.

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Close to half of all Irish households are late paying at least one bill per month.

In the last survey, conducted in March, 36 per cent of the working population, 428,000 people, saw no future for themselves or their families in Ireland. This figure has now risen to 585,000 people or 45 per cent of the working population.

The iReach survey, conducted for the Irish League of Credit Unions, also found that 82 per cent, or one million adults, fear about coping if further changes to income tax or welfare are introduced.

A total of 806,000 people feel that they are living to work as opposed to working to live.

The latest figures were collected before the July rise in the interest rate which will further damage consumer confidence.

Financial expert Frank Conway from www.moneycoach.ie told the Examiner: “The report’s findings should leave little doubt about how difficult it has become for so many people to pay for basic necessities.

“In respect of future expectations, citizens are increasingly left to feel they are on their own as they face a dangerous cocktail of tax hikes and budget cuts.

“Many people continue reducing debts and where possible, saving. These have become the only tools they have left as they prepare for an uncertain future.”

Conway also warned that the consumer boom, on the back of the Celtic Tiger, is now gone forever.
He added: “We now require immediate action to lay the legal framework to deal with those who, as a result of falling incomes and rising indebtedness, require alternative solutions,” he said.

The Credit Union survey also reports that 12 per cent of those in jobs cannot make ends meet, up from 10 per cent in March while six per cent of those working are not able to cover essential bills and a further six per cent have nothing left after paying their essential bills.

Chief executive of the Irish League of Credit Unions Kieron Brennan said: “In the past three months, since the March tracker, there has been an ECB rate increase and the announcement that charges for water, property and septic tanks are to be introduced at the beginning of the new year.

“Like our tracker in March, this second round is a further indication of just how hard the ordinary people of Ireland are being hit by increasing household expenses.”