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A roof over your head

Posted on November 22, 2014 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

A roof over your head is a fundamental human need and right. Purchasing or renting a place to live typically takes a big chunk of lifetime earnings or income. It is the biggest single cost facing most workers or households.  Recent decades have seen a significant change in the way people live, work and save over a lifetime.  Ireland and the UK tend to have higher shares of home ownership compared to many European countries and this has not changed over time. 

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Posted in: Government SpendingInvestment

NERI Seminar: Devolution in the United Kingdom Post Scottish Referendum

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Daragh McCarthy

NERI seminar: prospects post Scottish referendum on independence

In the aftermath of the Scottish Independence referendum, a broader discussion has begun about the future of economic governance in the United Kingdom. If further welfare and tax raising are to be devolved to Holyrood, what could this mean for the administrations in Belfast and Cardiff? What could this mean for the proposed devolution of corporation tax to Northern Ireland? How would further devolution to city regions in England affect overall UK fiscal policy?

Yesterday's NERI seminar examined some of these issues with Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary at the Scottish Trades Union Congress, providing an overview of the central issues in the recent Scottish referendum on independence and looking at proposals for further devolution in Scotland.

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Posted in: Northern Ireland

Things you always wanted to know about public finances in Northern Ireland but were afraid to ask (Part 1)

Posted on November 15, 2014 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

Fiscal austerity has dominated public discourse across Europe for more than half a decade. The UK and Northern Ireland has been no exception. Recent weeks have seen growing controversy and political tension as public spending cuts imposed by the UK government continue to impact on the local provision of public services and incomes.

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Posted in: Government SpendingInvestmentNorthern Ireland Taxation

NERI Seminar: Assessing Funding Models for Water Services Provision

Posted on November 12, 2014 by Daragh McCarthy

Tom McDonnell NERI Seminar on Funding Water Services.png

The Institute hosted its November research seminar in INTO Learning Centre yesterday afternoon. Dr Tom McDonnell presented his recent working paper on funding models for water services provision.

Working on the premise of water charges being introduced, the paper recommends combining a volume based pricing structure with a system of income related water credits ensuring that a combination of water charges and low income does not become a barrier to vulnerable households accessing water and wastewater services. The working paper accompanying today's seminar is available here and a recent blog by Tom Healy on the subject water charges can be found here. Slides from the presentation can be accessed below:

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Posted in: Government SpendingInvestmentTaxation

The workings of austerity

Posted on November 08, 2014

Tom Healy, Director NERI

When, in November 2010, the President of the European Central Bank wrote to the then Irish Minister for Finance, he stated on behalf of the Governing Council of the ECB that the Irish Government undertake four specific actions. The first two included the following commitments: “1) The Irish government shall send a request for financial support to the Eurogroup; 2) The request shall include the commitment to undertake decisive actions in the areas of fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and financial sector restructuring, in agreement with the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the ECB.” 'With kind regards etc.'

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Posted in: Government SpendingInvestmentMacroeconomicsTaxationWages

Thoughts on the funding of water services

Posted on November 05, 2014 by Tom McDonnell

Tom McDonnell profile

Next week the NERI will be holding a seminar on the topical issue of water charges (detail are here). In advance of the seminar, this blog provides some thoughts on funding water services in Ireland.

Access to clean and affordable water is a human right. Yet there is no such thing as free water. On an annual basis, the provision of water and wastewater services costs in excess of €1 billion. Water is difficult to transport and a consistent and secure supply of clean water is expensive to provide. Indeed the provision of water and waste water services requires the construction, maintenance, operation and improvement of expensive network infrastructure. The question isn’t ‘whether’ we should pay for water and wastewater services but ‘how’ we should pay for them.

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Posted in: Government SpendingInequalityInvestment

Trends in Average Incomes since 2006

Posted on November 04, 2014 by Micheál Collins

Income levels, whether for individuals or households, are far from perfect measures of progress and well-being. However, they offer one insight into the experience of recent years for households across the Republic. In particular, trends in disposable income (income after taxes and welfare payments) provide some understanding of what households have left in their pockets to spend each week/month or across the year.

The skewed nature of Ireland’s income distribution was highlighted in a recent NERI Research inBrief which I published in February. It is available here .

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Posted in: GenderIncomeInequalityWages

Welfare Reform in Northern Ireland

Posted on November 02, 2014 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI

The story goes about a town built just beyond the bend of large river. One day three bodies were sighted floating along downstream in the river. One body was dead so they buried it. One was alive, but quite ill, so they put that person into the hospital. The third turned out to be a healthy child, who was placed with a family who cared for the child and who took her to school.  ‘However, during all these years and despite all that generosity and effort, nobody thought to go up the river, beyond the bend that hid from their sight what was above them, and find out why, daily, those bodies came floating down the river’ [the story was told by writer Ron Rolheiser in 1991]. 

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Under employment in the Republic of Ireland

Posted on October 28, 2014 by Daragh McCarthy

Fact of the Week: Under employment

People classified as part-time underemployed are those who wish to work full-time, but cannot find a full-time job. Underemployment statistics touch on both the quality and quantity of work available to a sizable cohort in the labour market. In a sense, underemployment refers to a situation where an individual decides having some job—be it low skilled, poorly paid or with few guaranteed hours—is better than having no job. They take up employment, but remain actively seeking new job opportunities. Currently, there are 129,700 people classified as underemployed by the CSO.

Number of people underemployment and unemployment in Ireland ('000s), 2008—2014

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Posted in: Jobs

Budget 2015: another regressive budget

Posted on October 24, 2014

Tom Healy, Director NERI

Recently the Government in the Republic of Ireland unveiled its budget for the year 2015.  By European law the Budget is subject to approval  by the European Commission. Unlike a number of other European Union Member States it seems highly likely that the Budget will be approved. In the normal flow of events a Finance Bill will be enacted by the parliament or Dáil in Dublin before the end of this year.

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Posted in: Government SpendingInequalityInvestmentTaxation

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