Posts in the "Northern Ireland " category

UK Spring Budget. The calm before the storm

Posted on March 08, 2017 by Paul Mac Flynn

In what will be the UK's last Spring Budget, earlier today Philip Hammond gave what could only be described as a lacklustre financial statement to the House of Commons. There were moves to increase funding for Social Care and a small reversal of the increases to Business rates in England. At UK level, there as an increase in National Insurance for the self-employed but also an increase in tax thresholds with the higher rate threshold moving up to £50,000. The increases in the thresholds will benefit higher income tax payers more than modest gains for lower earners. For Northern Ireland, specifically, there was an increase of £120m in block grant spending over the next three years with £90m for day to day spending and £30m for capital projects. To put that in context £90 is 0.9% of Northern Ireland's current day to day resource spending. The block grant is set to fall by £184m in real terms by next year alone and to fall by over 5% by 2020. Whilst any new funding is welcome, austerity will continue to be the economic narrative in Northern Ireland for many years to come.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingNorthern Ireland Taxation

Northern Ireland’s draft Programme for Government revealed all of the signs of a power-sharing government on the brink of collapse

Posted on March 06, 2017 by Lisa Wilson

In the months leading up to Martin McGuinness’s resignation as Deputy First Minister and refusal to immediately nominate a replacement calling to a halt power-sharing in Northern Ireland, and the triggering of Assembly elections there was growing skepticism and concern as to why it was taking so long to clarify, publish and sign off on all of the necessary components needed to pursue the Assembly’s mandate - a final draft Programme, a budget, an economic strategy, and a social strategy. However, looking back, it is clear that skepticism was well-founded with failure to sign off on the Programme for Government nine months after the forming of a new Executive revealing all of the signs of a power-sharing Government on the brink of collapse.

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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland

Improving wellbeing: But what is it and who’s responsible? Northern Ireland’s new approach to governance

Posted on December 16, 2016 by Lisa Wilson

In Northern Ireland’s new draft Programme for Government (2016-2021) ‘wellbeing’ is embedded as the central concept on which the Executive seeks to base its new approach to governance. On the first line of the introduction to the draft document it is said that the Programme for Government is designed to help deliver improved wellbeing for all our citizens.’. Moreover, the overarching single-line strategic purpose of the Executive is set out as being to ‘improve wellbeing for all - by tackling disadvantage, and driving economic growth’.

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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland

QEO - The Implications of a Hard BREXIT for Northern Ireland

Posted on December 06, 2016 by Paul Mac Flynn

Brexit image

The Winter 2016 Quarterly Economic Observer was released this morning and it provides the NERI's analysis recent economic trends and the outlook for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We highlight the signs of decelerating growth in the Republic along with concerns about recent budgetary measures particularly in the housing sector. For Northern Ireland, the relative stability of the UK economy in the last few months removes any threat to the economy in the short term, but significant challenges remain. The depreciation of Sterling has provided some boost for the retail and hospitality sector in Northern Ireland in the form of increased exports and cross-border trade. However, there are more worrying trends in the labour market particularly with regard to increased male and youth unemployment. Overall the future path for the Northern Ireland economy will be very much decided by the exact shape and nature of the UK's exit from the European Union and this provides the topic for the focus section of this QEO.

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Permanent link | Categories: JobsNorthern Ireland

Measuring what matters: Alternative measures of progress for Northern Ireland

Posted on December 01, 2016 by Lisa Wilson

Measuring tape

What is the yardstick by which the progress of countries and societies ought to be measured and judged? This is the question which, for some years now, has acted as the lynchpin behind the many conversations taking place across the globe concerned with whether or not we are measuring what really matters for our people, our economies, our societies or our environment.

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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland

Autumn Statement 2016

Posted on November 23, 2016 by Paul Mac Flynn

The Autumn Statement delivered by the new chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is the first substantial financial statement made by the government since the BREXIT referendum result in June. Naturally the referendum and its consequences featured heavily in the announcements, but it is still clearly too early to make any definitive forecasts for the longer term.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingLiving wageNorthern Ireland Wages

Northern Ireland and the Living Wage in 2016

Posted on November 04, 2016 by Paul Mac Flynn

Last week the 2016 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings for Northern Ireland was released and some interesting results emerged. The largest increase in wages was bottom 10% of employees reflecting a welcome boost from the introduction of the National Living Wage. However, the National Living Wage should also not be confused with the real Living Wage, for which the latest rate was announced last week. For 2017 the rate will be £8.45 an hour in all parts of the UK excluding London. The ASHE figures for 2016 show that 28% of all Northern Ireland employees were paid below the Living Wage in 2016. These figures are a 1.5% increase on last year and show the limits of the ability of the governments National Living Wage to make a serious impact on Living standards.

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Permanent link | Categories: Living wageNorthern Ireland Wages

Big Idea: A Basic Income for Northern Ireland

Posted on August 18, 2016 by Micheál Collins

nicva image big ideas

NICVA held a Festival of Economics in Belfast on Friday August 12th.

Among the big ideas discussed was Basic Income.

The slides below are from my 2014 presentation to a NICVA masterclass on Basic Income. They explore the issue in the context of Northern Ireland, looking at the levels, costs, and likely challenges. They should also serve as a useful starting point for further work in this area. It seems, given the audience in attendance, that there is ongoing interest in the topic.

Permanent link | Categories: IncomeInequalityNorthern Ireland

The National Living Wage - What will it mean for Northern Ireland

Posted on March 30, 2016 by Paul Mac Flynn


The National Living Wage of £7.20 will come into force from tomorrow across the UK for those aged 25 and over. This new minimum wage rate will amount to an automatic increase of 50p per hour for the coming financial year and it is set to rise to £9 per hour by 2020. There has been much discussion of how workers and businesses will be affected by the NLW and this is particularly important for Northern Ireland as one of the lowest paid regions in the UK. In last December's Quarterly Economic Observer we outlined the impact of the NLW among employees and across industries. Overall 13% of workers in Northern Ireland would see an automatic increase in pay from this Friday. However the lower age limit of 25 will exclude some 50,000 workers who will remain on the current minimum wage of £6.70 per hour until November. It also does not take into account those who are currently paid above £7.20 per hour who may see a knock-on increase in their wages.

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Permanent link | Categories: JobsLiving wageNorthern Ireland Wages

UK Budget 2016 - Ominous Revisions

Posted on March 16, 2016 by Paul Mac Flynn

Today's statement in the House of Commons marked George Osborne's eighth budget in just under six years as Chancellor. Whilst there were many eye-catching policies such as a tax on sugary drinks and reforms to ISAs, they could not distract from some major revisions to UK economic growth. The Office for Budget Responsibility cut their forecast of UK GDP growth in 2016/17 to 2%, down from 2.4% outlined last November. GDP forecasts are cut further by an average of 0.3% out to 2020, putting significant strain on the Chancellors commitments on the public finances.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingMacroeconomicsNorthern Ireland Taxation

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