| 7.9°C Belfast

Republic's consumers cut back on credit card spending

Consumers in the Republic are radically cutting back on their spending on credit cards as they brace themselves for a tax and income squeeze in the new year.

Statistics from the Central Bank show that spending on cards is now more than one-tenth lower than it was earlier in the year, as households pare back spending in preparation for cuts and tax hikes to take effect in January.

Card holders also continue to make efforts to pay down their debt.

The latest figures showed that consumers paid off €133m (£113m) more than they spent on 2.1m personal credit cards in October, as they attempted to get to grips with card debt.

Income tax is due to rise and social welfare payments will fall from January 1 as the savage measures in Budget 2011 are implemented.

The survey gave the first true glimpse into the extent of non-mortgage debt.

Credit cards bills are the most prominent of the unsecured debts, with eight out of 10 people owing money on them, according to the research commissioned by new debt advice company the Debt Advisory Centre.

The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted by independent market research company iReach.

It found that some 2.8m people in the Republic have some form of unsecured debts, with 240,000 people having missed at least one payment.

Families with young children are set to be €3,000 (£2,560) worse off next year because of this month's Irish budget.

On top of this, the family will be down heavily from cuts in child benefit.

Households will also be hit by higher petrol and diesel prices, in a move that will cost the average driver around €72 (£61) a year.

Those families that are providing for their future by investing in a pension will end up having to shell out an additional €300 (£256), assuming they want to keep putting 6% of their salary into a pension.

This is because those paying into a pension will now have to pay PRSI (pay related social insurance) and the new universal social charge (a combination of the old income and health levies) on the money going into their pension.