Group warns 'rip-off rises like 30% car insurance hike devastating families'
Families are being devastated by rip-off rises in the cost of living, including a 30% surge in car insurance over the past year, consumer champions have warned.
Home insurance premiums rose 7% while payments for health insurance plans also jumped 2% over the last 12 months, latest official figures reveal.
At the same time, people renting their home have been forced to endure an average 8% hike while education costs - most notably for third level - have also increased.
Dermott Jewell, of the Consumers Association of Ireland (CAI), said much of the population continues to struggle with rising costs which are "working against families".
"The cost of living is rising, there is no question," he said.
"People are not necessarily better off at all.
"I hate to be miserable about it, but these are not good signs from January as to what will happen with the cost of living over the next six months."
Despite the entire hospitality industry being handed a special VAT cut in recent budgets, restaurant bills and hotel prices also continue to go up.
Mr Jewell said consumers believe they are "being ripped off again" with price hikes eroding any benefits people might receive in their pay packet.
"The effect of all the insurance rises particularly is devastating for quite a number of consumers," he said.
"For all the positivity, many people are not even near to out of the woods in terms of personal debt, budgetary restrictions at home and even looking at education, all of the costs are working against families.
"It is exceptionally frustrating to see."
The CAI has called for an independent review into the motor insurance industry.
Overall the cost of living has risen by 0.1% in the last year.
Huge increases in some goods and services were offset by lower diesel and petrol prices at the pumps as well as the dropping cost of buying a car.
Over the year, clothing was also cheaper - but mainly as a result of sales - while the price of food staples such as meat, milk, cheese, eggs, bread and cereals also dropped slightly. This is down to cut-price supermarkets taking off.
However, the price of vegetables has gone up, with the cost of potatoes jumping 10% at the checkouts over the past year.
The figures were released by the Central Statistics Office as part of its consumer price index.