News

Debt rate in Munster highest across country

31% of parents across Waterford and other counties in Munster are in debt because of back-to-school costs, according to a national survey by the Irish League of Credit Unions.

This figure is higher than the national average of 29%. Munster had the highest percentage in most of the categories assessed across the country.

The average price of getting a primary school child back to school in Munster costs €1,341, while the average spend for a secondary school child is €1,461.

7 in 10 parents say back-to-school costs are a financial burden, with 74% relying on their monthly income to pay for them. Almost 33% rely on their credit card, 19% rely on savings, and 9% say they will be taking out a bank loan.

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Munster ranked higher than the national average number of people who cannot afford new shoes. 39% of parents across the region will struggle to buy footwear for their kids, compared to 24% nationally.

8 in 10 parents will also deny their children of new gym gear because of a lack of money.

This was the highest instance in the country again, and parents said they will be shopping online for school supplies in order to get better deals and save more money.

The increased cost of food for school lunches was one of the biggest problems for parents, with 69% of Munster parents being affected by this compared to 61% of parents nationally.

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The cost of school uniforms and school transport were also significant factors.

Nearly a quarter of parents find themselves in debt of over €500. 31% said they incur a debt of between €401 and €500, with the average Munster parent being in €371 worth of debt.

This is €32 higher than the national average.

Solutions

The back-to-school allowance of €160 is currently available to parents of children aged between four and 11 on September 30th.

The Government made an announcement stating that this allowance is to increase by €100 per child as part of a €67 million package that aims to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

Sinn FΓ©in's education spokesman, Donnchadh O Laoghaire, said this will not help parents who are struggling but do not qualify for the payments, and called for the payment to be extended to middle-income families.

The Minister for Education suggested that this could be a possibility but that it was not possible to solve everything in one day.

Cost of Living

Since the beginning of the year, 84% of Munster respondents noted that they were affected by the rising cost of living.

91% are experiencing increased costs on household utility bills and 90% are seeing their groceries becoming more expensive.

To tackle this, 64% are canceling or reducing things such as gym memberships and TV subscriptions, while others are trying to earn an additional income or take out a loan.

Again, the people of Munster ranked the highest in terms of the number of those falling into debt while trying to cover household costs. 11% said they are struggling while the average was 8% nationally.

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