Public Policy Bulletin, 11 December 2020

Dec 11, 2020

In this week’s Public Policy news, read about IFAC’s latest ‘Point of View’ (POV), ‘Embracing a People-Centered Profession’; the Irish Government’s first Action Plan for Insurance Reform, and its Climate and Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector; the report showing Northern Ireland’s workforce as having high levels of job satisfaction; and the EU’s new Sustainability and Smart Mobility Strategy.

IFAC publishes its People-Centred profession Point of View

The International Federation of Accountants has this week released its latest ‘Point of View’ (POV), titled Embracing a People-Centered Profession. Focusing on ‘the human aspect’ of the profession, it allows IFAC to address issues such as gender equality, diversity, work-life balance, mental health, and lifelong learning, and to examine the relationship between focusing on ‘human capital’ and attracting and retaining talented people. Speaking about the POV, Kevin Dancey, IFAC CEO stated “Events like the COVID-19 pandemic remind us that ours is a profession powered by individuals”.

This POV is the latest in a series of POVs which are issued by IFAC on key policy issues impacting the profession and society, and which represent IFAC’s official position on topics. Other POVs include the profession's perspective on issues from audit quality and anti-corruption efforts to climate change and corporate governance.

First Action Plan for Insurance Reform in Ireland published

The Government has published its first Action Plan for Insurance Reform this week. The Plan aims to make Ireland’s insurance sector more competitive and consumer-friendly, and to support enterprise and job-creation. It sets out 66 actions for the short- and medium-term, aimed at, among others, reducing the costs for businesses and consumers, preventing fraud and introducing more competition.

The Plan reflects the commitments make in the Programme for Government for insurance reform, as well as outstanding recommendations from the Cost of Insurance Working Group and Personal Injuries Commission. It will, among other measures:

  • replace the Book of Quantum with new guidelines on the appropriate level of personal injury awards
  • enhance the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB)
  • reduce insurance fraud, including placing perjury on a statutory footing, making the offence easier to prosecute
  • strengthen the enforcement powers of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC)
  • establish a Government office to encourage greater insurance market competition.

Actions under the Plan will be undertaken and delivered by Ministers in the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Finance and Justice over the next 18 months. These Minister are part of the  Government’s Sub-Group on Insurance Reform, formed under the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment to drive implementation of these commitments. Other members of the subgroup are the Ministers for Public Expenditure and Reform; Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth; and the Ministers of State with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance; and for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation.  The Sub-Group will  meet regularly, engage with stakeholders and publish progress of the actions every six months.

Government publish its Agri Roadmap towards Climate Neutrality

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has published its roadmap to tackle climate change and air pollution. Designed to help all stakeholders to work together so that Ireland will achieve its aim to have a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, the publication comes after extensive engagement with representatives from industry, research, policy, farming and environment.

Including 29 actions with specific and challenging targets, it sets out how the agriculture sector will reduce emissions over the coming decades, for example, by reducing fertiliser use, encouraging lower-emitting cattle breeds and promoting an increase in organic farming and tillage. Two of the measures are to genotype the entire national herd by 2030 to underpin the development of enhanced dairy and beef breeding programmes, which it says will help achieve a reduction in “overall green house gas output at national level”, and to increase the area of land used for organic farming to 350,000 hectares in the next ten years.

Speaking at the launch of the plan, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said that  said that every sector “is going to have to make a contribution in the years to come in order to meet our climate change objectives and agriculture has a very important role to play.”

Northern Ireland report shows high levels of job satisfaction

Almost 90 percent of Northern Ireland workforce enjoys job satisfaction and regards their employment as ‘meaningful’ according to a recent report by NI Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra). Published this week, the study used a range of work-quality indicators for Northern Ireland for July 2019 – June 2020 and provided an overview of six work quality indicators sourced from the Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey (LFS). It used three new work-quality indicators for the first time: meaningful work, career progression and involvement in decision-making. It found that:

  • 96 percent of employees were in ‘secure’ work, i.e. in permanent roles or in temporary jobs but with no desire to find more permanent work
  • ·over 50 percent were happy with the opportunities for career progression in their work compared to 26 percent did not think their jobs offered good opportunities for advancement
  • approximately 50 percent said that their managers were either good or very good at involving them in decision-making in the workplace, against nearly one in four who described their management as poor, or very poor, at involving them
  • ·nearly 80 percent reported a job satisfaction rating of ‘satisfied’ or better
  • 86 percent said that they performed meaningful work.

EU launches its Sustainability and Smart Mobility Strategy

The European Commission has launched its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy this week. The strategy is part of the European Green Deal, and its key goal is to dramatically reduce emissions from transport. These currently account for more than a quarter of the EU’s CO2 emission. Without this reduction, the EU will not reach its goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050. Measures included in the strategy are:

  • 30 million zero-emission vehicles on European roads
  • 100 climate-neutral cities
  • Carbon-neutral inter-city trips of less than 500 km
  • zero-emissions airplanes and ships
  • road and rail transport using a mix of electricity and hydrogen
  • emissions-standards increases for cars in 2021 and trucks by 2022
  • a doubling of rail-freight traffic, a tripling high-speed rail traffic, and completion of the trans-European transport network with state-of-the-art traffic management systems.

Speaking about the implementation of the strategy, Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean described it as creating: “a more efficient and resilient transport system, which is on a firm pathway to reduce emissions in line with our European Green Deal goals.”

Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre.