|City of Belfast |
A survey shows the cost of commonly used services is on average 30% higher in Dublin than in Belfast, even though VAT rates in the Republic are often lower.
The cost of a car service in Belfast was on average 45% cheaper than a similar service in Dublin, while the cost of a gas boiler service was 33% more in Dublin than Belfast.
Dentists were found to be 29% more expensive in Dublin compared to Belfast, while both driving lessons and chiropractors were 25% dearer.
Last month, Eurostat, the EU statistics agency said Denmark, Ireland and Finland had the highest overall prices of all European Union countries for consumer goods such as food, clothing and electronics, in 2008.
Professional services fees are also often excessive:
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The survey of Dublin and Belfast prices was carried out by Consumer Choice magazine (no web link to data).
Food prices surveys last year showed a similar price gap of about 30 per cent between the North and the South, but this has fallen in recent months as retailers in the Republic cut prices.
“The survey shows that some groups just haven’t got the message on lowering prices,” said Dermot Jewell, chief executive of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, which publishes Consumer Choice.
“They’re keeping their head down and hoping the bad stuff blows over, but it won’t. Prices for services on either side of the Border aren’t even remotely comparable.”Jewell said and suggested that consumers needed to become more vocal on the issue and the Tánaiste needed to be more active on their behalf.
On average, it cost more than €100 more to have a car serviced in Dublin than in Belfast, a difference of 45% according to the survey. This rose to 47% when VAT was stripped out. Quotes from Dublin garages varied from €135 to €270, while the Belfast quotes ranged from €53 to €91. The cost of getting a standard gas boiler serviced varied from €80 to €110 in Dublin; the equivalent job in Belfast cost from €57 to €74. The average difference was 33 per cent, or 35 per cent excluding VAT.
The average cost of a one-hour driving lesson in Dublin is €39, compared to €29 in Belfast. A driving test in the Republic costs €75 compared with €105 in Belfast.
Quotes for a routine dental examination and polish from Dublin dentists varied between €70 and €140. The same work cost between €57 and €91 in Belfast, a 100% difference.
The authors of the survey say the difference in price for dental work is hardly surprising, given the constant flow of consumers heading out of the Republic for dental work. It also points out that consumers with PRSI contributions can reclaim some of the cost of certain dental treatments.
The cost of a consultation with a chiropractor was an average €66 in Dublin and €50 in Belfast.