A million adults in Ireland say they are struggling to make ends meet, while slightly less than a million say they are living comfortably. These are among the findings of Aviva’s Second Family Finances Report 2017 which provides a snapshot of the financial health and well-being of households across Ireland.
Commenting on the Report, Ann O’Keeffe, Head of Individual Life and Pensions, said: “Our findings tell a tale of two recoveries: those who are feeling the upswing in their own finances and those who continue to struggle. Worryingly, 70% of the 1 million who are struggling see no prospect of improvement in their circumstances. On the upside, 1.5 million are optimistic about their future.”
Asked to describe their current financial circumstances, 28% or 1 million adults, say they are struggling while 27% or 965,000 adults, say they are living comfortably. A further 45%, or 1.6 million adults, say they are getting by financially. Middle age is the pinch point with 40% of 45 to 54 year olds saying they are struggling. The most fortunate are those over 65, 44% of whom are living comfortably.
The survey for the Second Aviva Family Finance Report, carried out by RED C, finds optimism among households about the economy and their own financial well-being has grown since the first report last autumn. In particular, confidence in employment opportunities has increased with 47% saying they believe their employment prospects will continue to improve over the next six months.
Expectations on pay have also risen with 49% now expecting a salary increase, up 9 points since the autumn. Notwithstanding this, just one-third of adults expect their disposable incomes to increase with older age groups being least optimistic. The numbers expecting to pay more taxes have increased by 8 points, to 47%.
The report identifies the 35 to 54 year old age cohort as the most financially stressed. This so-called ‘squeezed middle’ are also the most downbeat in their expectations for their future.
· One in three are struggling to make ends meet
· More than a third pay crèche fees and 67% pay towards their children’s education.
· Almost half have a mortgage and over three quarters have other debts.
This is the group that bore the brunt of the economic crash. Many lost their jobs and / or experienced wage cuts. All were hit by government austerity measures introduced by successive governments. Of those who bought houses many are likely to have bought at, or close to, the top of the market. A majority feel ill-prepared for retirement and half of them expect to carry debts beyond their working lives.
“This key group is experiencing a financial ‘mid-life crisis’ as they juggle their responsibilities and liabilities to keep their heads above water. Two in three of them see no immediate prospect of their income improving and many of them will have to find a way of funding their retirement. Their plight deserves the attention of those working on future pensions’ policy,” said Ann O’Keeffe.
By contract, those under the age of 34 and over 65 are faring much better. The younger age cohort is the most positive in outlook with 44% expecting their income and employment prospects to improve. Meanwhile, by far the most fortunate financially is the 65+ age group, 44% of whom say they are living comfortably. Over half of the 965,000 who are living comfortably are optimistic that their lives will improve financially over the next six months. Across the population, 1.5 million are optimistic about their finances over the next six months.