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Posts in the "Northern Ireland " category

Corbyneconomics and Northern Ireland

Posted on September 12, 2015 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI - Tom Healy, Director NERI
Tom Healy, Director NERI

The election of a new leader to the UK Labour Party signals a potentially important milestone. Many see this development in extremely negative terms while others see it as a welcome break in thinking and policy not only in the UK but across Europe. Whatever readers may think of Corbyneconomics or Cobynpolitics at home or abroad the force of the ideas behind Corbyn needs to be understood and taken seriously. The UK is undergoing a major shift in thinking and relationship with Europe (and therefore all of Ireland). This is much larger than what is happening in one political party.  The ‘Shifts and the Shocks’ described by Martin Wolfe in his book last year apply not just in the financial world but in the world of political economy, ideas and allegiances.

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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland

Underemployment in Northern Ireland

Posted on August 19, 2015 by Paul Mac Flynn

Publication cover - Quarterly Economic Observer, Summer2015 - Cover image for Quarterly Economic Observer, Summer2015
Cover image for Quarterly Economic Observer, Summer2015

In June of this year the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency released a paper on the subject of underemploymentent in Northern Ireland. Underemploymnet has become a key policy issue of late due to improving conditions in the labour market. As the paper sets out, underemployment is defined as


"A person who is in employment, working less than 48 hours per week, would like to work more hours and is available to start in the next fortnight."

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Permanent link | Categories: JobsNorthern Ireland

Some context to Welfare Spending

Posted on July 21, 2015 by Paul Mac Flynn

An article appeared in this morning's Belfast Telegraph outlining expenditure on some welfare benefits in Northern Ireland for the latest financial year. The figures were obtained in response to a parliamentary question to the Minister for Social Development and can be found here . The article made a number of claims about where expenditure has increased and then went on to quote some rather inept comparisons between the financial positions of Northern Ireland and Greece. All too often the debate in Northern Ireland regarding welfare reform has been sensationalist rather than intelligent. It is worth putting the figures reported today in some context.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingNorthern Ireland

Austerity in Northern Ireland. Where are we and where are we going?

Posted on May 06, 2015 by Paul Mac Flynn

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How did we get here?

The Agreement reached by Northern Ireland's political parties at Stormont House last year covered many topics from parades and the past to political reform and shared education. The agreement has now seemingly come unstuck over the issue of welfare reform. Welfare reform was arguably the most intractable of issues supposedly dealt with by the Stormont House Agreement and the quasi-collapse of the deal still threatens to derail Northern Ireland's budget for 2015/16. That budget, if implemented would be the last instalment of austerity from the current UK government.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingMacroeconomicsNorthern Ireland

From Strabane to Strangford Lough

Posted on March 07, 2015 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI - Tom Healy, Director NERI
Tom Healy, Director NERI

Northern Ireland rests on a very precarious political balance involving internal community relations, external relationships, social well-being and economic progress. In terms of overall size of the economy, including public spending, it accounts for a relatively small slice of the total UK picture. Yet, as a regional economy and polity it is highly vulnerable to fiscal, political and economic trends not only in the UK as a whole but in Europe and the world.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingInvestmentNorthern Ireland Taxation

Where now for employment growth in Northern Ireland

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Paul Mac Flynn

The construction sector in Northern Ireland saw the largest fall in employment across the economy. Even now, over six years since the property crash there are still 30% fewer jobs in the sector than there were in 2008. Many of the jobs in the construction sector would have been mid-level skilled positions that commanded decent wages and formed the backbone of employment in many communities.

 

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Permanent link | Categories: JobsNorthern Ireland

Low Pay in Northern Ireland in 2014

Posted on January 28, 2015 by Paul Mac Flynn

In March of last year the NERI's Spring Quarterly Economic Observer analysed earnings and low pay across Northern Ireland. We highlighted the gender, age and geographical breakdown of low pay and the implications of these statistics for policymakers. In December of last year the latest figures from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings were released and they painted a bleak picture for pay in Northern Ireland across the board. In that Spring QEO we examined three measures of 'low pay' and the first of these was the minimum wage. The minimum wage is, quite obviously, the minimum legal hourly rate of pay for workers in the UK (with lower rates for younger workers). The Minimum Wage however, is not a subsistence rate for employees but a rate that is designed to cause minimum disruption to the behaviour of employers i.e. one that would not cause undue unemployment. The minimum wage is and was always meant to be a wage floor, an absolute minimum not a starting salary, but as the chart below shows, in 2014 in Northern Ireland 10% of workers earned just the minimum wage and increase of 1% from last year.

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Permanent link | Categories: Living wageNorthern Ireland Wages

UK recovery still unbalanced and unstable

Posted on December 03, 2014 by Paul Mac Flynn

Paul

Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement contained few new announcements and some decidedly grim long-term trends for the UK economy. There were further details given on pre-announced infrastructural spending on house building, roads and rail in addition to earmarked funding for established science and research. The chancellor also outlined a major reform to the way stamp duty is levied in the United Kingdom, removing the "cliff edge" that exists as the price of a property moves between established bands. While reform of this tax is welcome, it could be perceived as a further attempt to boost house prices and activity in teh market. It is estimated that the cost of this policy will be in the region of £800m annually. Air passenger duty was also reduced along with a continuing freeze in fuel duty. There were small uprates to the personal tax allowance and the higher rate band.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingMacroeconomicsNorthern Ireland TaxationWages

Things you always wanted to know about Northern Ireland public finances (Part 2)

Posted on November 28, 2014 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI - Tom Healy, Director NERI
Tom Healy, Director NERI

In a previous Blog ‘Things you always wanted to know about public finances in Northern Ireland but were afraid to ask’ (Part 1) I outlined the main components of public spending and receipts. The arrangements for funding and how the UK Government allocates funds are complex.  Three factors have recently pushed the issue of public funding in Northern Ireland to the fore:

  1. Continuing pressure on public spending at UK level with further austerity signalled by all main political parties in the next Parliament (following May 2015).
  2. Controversy over UK Welfare Reform (see previous blog here)
  3. On-going debate about devolution including powers to vary taxes in Scotland, Northern Ireland and even large urban areas in the UK (earlier last week the Smith Commission reported on proposals for further Scottish independence).

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingNorthern Ireland Taxation

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 - NERI seminar: prospects post Scottish referendum on independence
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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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland

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