What does the data tell us about the cost of living?

Posted: Apr 24, 2023 / By: Communications Categories:
What does the data tell us about the cost of living?

Written by Karl Burke, of The Housing Agency's research team. 

The Housing Agency’s Data Insight Series seeks to inform housing practitioners and the public about topical housing issues by presenting data is a visual and accessible format. Launched in September, to date, four issues have been published with the most recent release in April 2023.

The third iteration of the data insights series explored two challenges that are facing Irish families and communities with the cost of living – housing costs and energy prices.

In relation to housing, there are two primary concerns – accelerated housing costs for both homeowners’ and renters, and a growth in the number of people presenting as homeless. The current findings from the Housing Agency’s data insights series show that prior to early 2015, costs for homeowners and renters were reasonably stable. However, since then, both indicators have been steadily increasing overtime. For example, in January 2020, the national median sale price of housing was €255,000 and the national standardised average rent for new tenancies was €1,287 in Q1 2020. Prices continued to rise in early 2021 where the median sale price had risen to €270,000 and the average rent on new tenancies rose to €1,341. The latest data shows that in November 2022, the median sale price of housing stands at €310,000 while the standardised average rent on new tenancies is €1,481.

Median sale price of housing 2010 - 2022Average rent for new tenancies

On energy prices, many households across Ireland have experienced increased costs in heating their homes since the war in Ukraine began. The European Union have imposed restrictions on fossil fuel imports from Russia. This in turn has led the EU to re-evaluate its heavy reliance on Russian energy, particularly within mainland Europe. Findings from this data insights series shows that in the first half of 2020, households were paying an average gas price of 6.73 cents per kWh and paying an average 23.05 cents per kWh on electricity. By the end of 2021, average gas and electricity prices paid by households had increased to 7.93 cents per kWh for gas and 28.23 cents per kWh for electricity. As of early 2022, the average gas price paid by households was 8.51 cents per kWh. Interestingly, average prices paid for electricity had declined to 26.45 cents per kWh.

Average gas price 2012 - 2022

While housing and energy costs are likely to remain an issue for the foreseeable future, there are positive signs that energy prices will fall, and the Government has been taking action to tackle challenges related to the cost-of-living increase. The announcement of Budget 2023 contained a list of measures to help financially support families across the country. This included supports such as the Electricity Costs Emergency Benefit Scheme II which allowed for all domestic electricity customers in the country to be allocated €600 in credits (€200 over 3 stages) to aid with reducing electricity bills for households. Supports also included a €400 lump sum in Fuel Allowance and a double lump sum in Child Benefit to all recipients of those payments. Additionally, a €470 million package was recently announced by the Government to assist social protection recipients from April to July 2023. The measures include temporary reductions in VAT on gas and electricity, from 13.5% to 9%, which will be extended to 31 October 2023.

Average electricity 2012 -2022

All issues of the Data Insight Series can be accessed through this link. Previous issues researched Student Accommodation (Issue 1) and Irish Government Housing Expenditure (Issue 2). Issue 4 of the insights series released in April covers Women and Housing.

Further data visualisation resources are available on the Housing Agency’s Data Hub at this link.

This article was originally posted on the Chartered Institute of Housing website.