Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Viewpoint: Rising bills spell trouble

Our investigation today into rising food and fuel prices makes for stark reading. Gas price rises of 28%, food up 27%, petrol heading towards £1.50 a litre.

Consumers are more than feeling the pinch.

The soaring prices are beginning to influence household decisions on the purchase of cars, holidays, furnishing and a range of other goods.

The fear is that it can only be a matter of time before these domestic pressures spill over, via decreased demand, into the retail and manufacturing sectors and from there into the jobs market.

Employment has so far been remarkably resilient — in cycles like the present one, however, employment contraction tends to lag behind the economic curve.

There are further — unique — pressures on household budgets in Northern Ireland.

One is the water bill or 'tap tax', which will add hundreds of pounds to household bills very shortly.

The second is a looming rates revaluation.

That, many people fear, will lead to another significant rise in rates.

Politicians at Stormont may not control prices and income tax, but in the current environment they must be wondering whether rates and water bills could return to haunt them in the not too distant future.

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