Posts in the "Northern Ireland " category

Interest Rates: Don't move too soon

Posted on November 01, 2017 by Paul Mac Flynn

Interest rates have been making the headlines in recent weeks, as speculation mounts about a possible change in policy this Thursday. In the UK the Bank of England base rate has been at an all-time low for almost 10 years. Monetary policy has been very loose since the Great Financial Crash of 2008, not only in the UK but around the world.

Low interest rates were also supplemented by a process of Quantitative Easing designed to free up even more money in the system by allowing central bank purchase less risky assets such as bonds.

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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland Wages

Job insecurity is not a necessary trade-off to job flexibility

Posted on September 25, 2017 by Lisa Wilson

In the Autumn of 2016 Prime Minister Theresa May commissioned Matthew Taylor to undertake a review to consider how employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models. One of the central aims of the review was to consider the extent that emerging business practices put pressure on the ‘trade-off between flexible labour and benefits such as higher pay or greater work availability, so that workers lose out on all aspects’.

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Permanent link | Categories: IncomeJobsLiving wageNorthern Ireland Wages

The Absence of Devolution - The Economic Costs

Posted on July 19, 2017 by Paul Mac Flynn

As the deadline of the 29th of June passed without the establishment of a new Executive, it looks as though Northern Ireland may be in for a long period with no devolved government. Quite how long this interregnum will last is in the realm of political speculation, but it does have important implications for our economy.

Much has been made of the fact that, as a consequence of the failure to form an Executive back in March, the civil service has been ‘running the country’. That the walls have not come tumbling down around us, has lead many to question the real benefits of devolution and whether we would really miss the Northern Ireland Executive if it never came back.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingNorthern Ireland

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

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