How much does a very basic household budget cost in Ireland?

How much does a very basic household budget cost in Ireland?

‘A Minimum Essential Standard of Living (M.E.S.L) is one which meets a person’s physical, moral, spiritual and social well-being’ (UN definition of an adequate lifestyle).

Budgeting.ie is a fascinating website by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice.

The website is dedicated to the development of budget standards to determine the cost of a minimum essential standard of living for different households – a Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL). It contains sample budgets and the minimum levels of income for various types of household budgets – for lone individuals, pensioners and families, whether working or on Social Welfare. 

This website can help you figure out how much a basic household budget costs in Ireland.

You can also see whether or not the average family was better off in 2006/2007 than in 2008 by checking out the Changes in Minimum Essential Budgets section. This compares how each household in this study has fared over the 3 year period.

You can get the entire Minimum Essential Budgets for Six Households 2008 here. I have quoted from this report where I point out some interesting conclusions below.

Interesting example – the financial strain experienced by parents of teenagers

Some of the results are unpredictable.

I have reproduced below two charts showing 

  • Total weekly income, expenditure and shortfall for a family of two adults and two children (3 year old girl and 10 year old boy) in 2007 / 2008. In most of these cases discretionary income went up.
  • Total weekly income, expenditure and shortfall for a family of two adults and two children (10 year old girl and 15 year old girl) in 2007 / 2008. In most of these cases discretionary income went down.

How does one explain this? Perhaps as children get older, they get more expensive

It seems to be true:

A further point that the figures for this household type underscore is the financial strain experienced by parents of teenagers. An adolescent places further monetary pressure on parents who are already struggling on a low income as their expenditure costs rise substantially when a teenager is present in the household.

Total weekly income, expenditure and shortfall for two adults and two children 
(3 year old girl and 10 year old boy) 2007-2008

Two Adults and Two Children
Reproduced from the Report Comparison 2006-2008: Two adults and two children (3 year old and 10 year old)

Total weekly income, expenditure and shortfall for two adults and two children 
(10 year old girl and 15 year old girl) 2007-2008

Two Adults and Two Children B
Reproduced from the Report Comparison 2006-2008: Two adults and two children (10 year old and15 year old)

Loss of the Medical card because of increase in Minimum Wage

Another conclusion is that increasing the minimum wage has not helped some people. 

Part time working parents are hit harder by this:

…the financial situation of households with 1 full-time worker and 1 part-time worker has actually worsened in the period 2006-2008… This deterioration in their financial situation is as a result of the €1.00 increase in the National Minimum Wage (NMW) which increased their income but put them above the income threshold allowed for a medical card. The loss of the medical card has had serious financial implications for these households …[as] …it has also created a poverty trap that penalizes those who choose to work outside the home.

One Euro more? This is terrible, considering the cost of medicine in Ireland.

2008 worse for young single men

It seems that alongside the increase in unemployment for young males due to the building boom ending, it is actually harder for young Irish men to thrive economically because of the cost of rent in Ireland:

The cost of rent in the private sector places a significant financial burden on single adult males at this income level and puts a Minimum Essential Standard of Living beyond their reach. A person on the National Minimum Wage would approximately have to work 46.5 hours per week to afford a Minimum Essential Lifestyle.

Rents seem to be coming down in Ireland now, so maybe this will improve in 2009.

Very interesting reading! Check out the budgeting.ie Publications page for more.


2 Responsesto “How much does a very basic household budget cost in Ireland?”

  1. ficho says:

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