Belfast Telegraph

Cost of living rises, figures show

The cost of living increased by just over half a per cent in the last year, according to official figures.

Although consumer prices fell by 0.1% last month, the Central Statistics Office revealed they increased 0.6% in the last year.

The biggest change was a 9.2% increase in housing, gas, electricity and other fuel charges, while communications jumped 2.9% and goods and services were up 2.4%.

The price of clothes and footwear jumped 1.9% in November.

The Small Firms Association (SFA) said inflation is being driven by increases in public utility costs such as housing, water and electricity.

SFA acting director Avine McNally said: "These figures again show that costs in some sectors are too high and we need urgently to come in line with our competitors.

"Costs measures taken by Irish small businesses to regain costs have been negated by the costs imposed by the Government-administered sector - while the Government has indicated that action will be taken to address costs, we have as yet not seen any concrete proposals. Unless costs are urgently addressed, jobs will remain under threat or lost and businesses will close."

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) said companies continue to be undermined by cost increases in local charges, energy and transport.

Isme chief Mark Fielding said: "Company owners are being constantly faced with more and more state-imposed cost increases. This was evident in the recent Budget, which increased transport and employment costs and failed to address the serious issue of local charges.

"Somebody in authority has to realise that the only way for business to survive and grow is to be competitive, the biggest obstacle to this at present being the State."

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