Cost of living down again

The cost of living has fallen for 13 months in a row, official figures revealed today.

Consumer prices were down 3.9% in the last year with the biggest reductions in housing and energy, clothing and footwear and drink.

The Central Statistics Office said the traditional winter sales played a large part in reducing costs.

Fine Gael labour affairs spokesman Damien English claimed state-controlled costs continued to rise despite massive falls in other sectors.

“Irish companies are being forced to slash prices in order to stay competitive,” he said.

“Many are finding it impossible to stay afloat, while others are laying off staff in order to keep going.

“So it is deeply disturbing to see that prices controlled or regulated by the Government are still rising, when the inflation rate is actually falling.”

Fine Gael pointed to the rising cost of health, education and transport.

The CSO said it had identified an increase in the price of dental and optician services, petrol and diesel prices but at the same time a drop in airfares had been recorded.

Education costs soared by 11.3%.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises association (ISME) said the cost of Government-run services was out of kilter.

Mark Fielding, ISME chief executive, said: “The current level of negative inflation should not be used as an indication that all costs are being kept under control. Unfortunately this simple point is lost on the powers that be.

“The overall prize of reducing state-influenced costs is improved competitiveness, company survival and job retention.”

He added: “Unless we can bring our business costs into line with our competitors we will continue to lose firms and haemorrhage jobs.”

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