Irish people are optimistic about the economy generally for 2014 but feel that their own circumstances will get worse. The apparent contradiction is contained in a major survey of 26,000 Irish people carried out by The AA.
39.5 per cent said that they felt that Ireland’s economy would improve, even if only slightly, in 2014. Only 17 per cent felt it would get worse.
“We were surprised that people seemed positive yet a lot of the comments received said that they saw signs of improvement in the economy,” says Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan. “People generally seemed to think that we had reached the bottom and had begun to spend again.”
At the same time when asked about their own personal circumstances people were much more pessimistic. Only 16.9 per cent of people believed that their own finances would get better while 37.7 per cent said that their personal situation would be worse.
“The economy is the aggregate of all of us so this does seem to be a contradiction,” said Mr Faughnan. “The main reason for this appears to be Property Tax – lots of people said that they would face this major additional bill while their incomes stayed the same.”
When talking about their own circumstances a lot of people mentioned the Local Property Tax and also a general rise in utility bills and in health insurance costs.
“We received over 2,000 individual comments and statements from the people who answered this question on our survey.”The frustration and stress that people are feeling is palpable,” he said.
Many said that they were on fixed incomes that would at best stay the same while their living costs would increase. 2014 will see people paying a full year’s property tax for the first time and although the first domestic water bills will not land until 2015 people also worried about the impact of these charges coming down the line. In general, men were a little bit more positive about next year than women. 42.2 per cent of men felt the economy would improve as opposed to only 35.1 per cent of women.
What was also evident was that there is a divide between Dublin and the rest of the country with people in the capital quite a bit more upbeat about the national prospects for the coming year. 44.4 per cent of Dubliners felt the Irish economy would improve while 14.3 per cent felt it would get worse. Dubs were only slightly more optimistic than the rest of the country when it comes to their own circumstance; 17.8 per cent felt things would improve for them where 37.9 per cent felt they would worsen.
The questions on Ireland’s economic prospects were included in the AA Consumer Panel survey carried out in mid-November. Over 26,000 people took part.