More pain as health and college fees set to rocket
STRUGGLING families were today facing a double whammy -- with more hikes in college fees and health cover on the way.
The first of the blows came as State-owned VHI ramped up its premiums for the third time in just 13 months.
And the pain was compounded when Education Minister Ruairi Quinn announced a 50pc rise in college registration fees over the next four years.
The revelations came as the Central Bank slashed our growth forecasts -- painting an even graver picture for Ireland's recovery. The move has led to fears among coalition sources that a mid-year emergency budget will be necessary.
But the insurance hikes and tuition fee increases is set to have a devastating effect on middle class Ireland.
The VHI led the way in serving up bad news by announcing a 9pc hike in its prices.
Independent experts have said that the increase means the overall cost of some insurance policies has risen by 65pc in one year.
The price hikes -- which will range from 6pc to 12pc -- will take effect on March 1.
The move will lump an additional €600 per year onto the cost of health insurance for a family with two children.
Experts believe the move will result in a raft of families giving up private health cover.
Meanwhile, Minister Quinn signalled that third level tuition fees would rise to €3,000 in the years ahead.
As announced in December's budget, the rise of €250 will come into effect in September, with the further increases taking hold over the next four years.
Mr Quinn broke the news during an address to college students in Limerick.
"We now have this €2,000 fee, €2,250 next (academic) year, and it is probably increasing up to €3,000," he said.
"That is kind of the downside of the story," he added.
He had previously pledged not to hike up student contributions at all if in Government, claiming yesterday that he doesn't "feel great" about breaking his promise.