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Coverage by RTE of Pensions in Ireland : A responsible way forward
Accountants say automatic pension enrolment a good idea
Coverage in the Irish Independent of Pensions in Ireland: A responsible way forward
Accountants back scheme to auto-enrol for pension
Coverage in the Irish Independent Business of Pensions in Ireland: A responsible way forward
Launch of Pensions in Ireland report

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Public Policy

In this week’s Public Policy Bulletin, read our update on work and travel restrictions and the list of essential service providers under new public health guidelines. You can also read the ESRI’s commentary on a possible recession in the Irish economy due to COVID-19.   List of essential service providers under new public health guidelines: Update on work and travel restrictions   The Government of Ireland has imposed far reaching restrictions on work and travel to as part or measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19. Members in the Republic of Ireland should read and familiarise themselves with government announcements regarding the measures. A list of essential services was published by the Department of the Taoiseach on 28 March, which includes references to accountancy, payroll and payment, and data processing services. Read more for our recommendations for members.   Accordingly, we are recommending to members where possible;   In the first instance, members should note that that they, and where relevant their employees, must work from home if at all possible.   Members in an employer or practitioner capacity should consider whether some or all of their business or practice cannot be conducted from home and is considered essential under the guidelines below. In this case, then where possible, members should compartmentalise the operations of the business or practice between those parts which should be operated from home, those which should be discontinued, and those parts which should remain open because they are an essential service. We would appeal to all our members to respect the spirit of the measures which is to limit travel and work contacts to the absolute minimum.   The guidelines include a grace period until 6pm on 30 March 2020 for the necessary arrangements to be made. Therefore, members in an employer capacity should ensure that they communicate promptly with all employees regarding their decision and policies regarding opening of the business and remote working. Administrative requirements such as the provision of letters to employees should be attended to by the end of the grace period, and guidance is given in the attached link.   This is a rapidly evolving situation and further guidance may be issued by the Government over the coming days. Important links: New Public Health Measures effective now to prevent further spread of COVID-19 (28 March 2020) https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/cf9b0d-new-public-health-measures-effective-now-to-prevent-further-spread-o/     List of essential service providers under new public health guidelines (28 March 2020), which includes references to accountancy, payroll and payment and data processing services https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/dfeb8f-list-of-essential-service-providers-under-new-public-health-guidelin/       Irish economy to contract by 7.1 per cent, warns ESRI In their Quarterly Economic Commentary, the independent research think-tank, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) have said that the Irish economy would potentially register a recession this year with output contracting by over 7 per cent. This prediction assumes that the current restrictions on economic life will remain in place over a period of 12 weeks. Under such a scenario, this constitutes a significant reversal of the pre COVID-19 related economic trends. The scenario analysis outlines a significant increase in Ireland’s unemployment rate from 4.8 per cent in February to 18 per cent in Q2 2020 before falling back to just under 11 per cent by the end of the year. The combination of the extra expenditure on health and social welfare allied to the sharp decline in certain taxation revenues means a deficit of nearly 4.5 per cent is now likely to occur in 2020 and could be higher. The commentary also analyses the impact on household demand, the trade sector, investment, the labour market and public finances. It is predicted that consumption, investment and net trade would all fall sharply as households cut spending, firms cancel or postpone investment and external demand for Irish goods and services fall. However, their key working assumption is that the majority of the economic impacts of COVID-19 occur in Quarter 2 of the present year. By Quarter 3 and into Quarter 4, economic activity both domestically and internationally is assumed to return to normal If this does not occur then the results will be even more adverse for the domestic economy, according to the ERSI.     Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre.    

Mar 27, 2020
Public Policy

Updated on 31 March 2020 The COVID-19 crisis is presenting immediate and severe financial challenges for businesses. Here are some practical steps, supports and guidance made available by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation: Talk to your bank on provision of additional supports such as payment holidays or emergency working capital facilities, and take immediate steps to manage your cashflows  Use available government supports for working capital The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme supports loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7 years. Applications can be made to AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. Microenterprises can access COVID-19 loans of up to €50,000 from MicroFinance Ireland. The terms include a six months interest free and repayment free moratorium, with the loan to then be repaid over the remaining 30 months of the 36-month loan period. Loans are available at an interest rate of between 6.8% and 7.8%. Businesses can apply through their Local Enterprise Office or directly at microfinanceireland.ie. The €200m SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses supports loans from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%. Applications can be made through the SBCI website at sbci.gov.ie. A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme is available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business. A new Business Continuity Voucher, available through Local Enterprise Offices, designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people. The voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apply here    Check your insurance cover Check if your insurance policy covers you for an interruption in your business, or a temporary business closure, caused by COVID-19.  Business Continuity Planning: COVID-19 Checklist Take a look at the Department’s Business Continuity Planning Checklist in response to COVID-19.  Essential Retail Outlets A list of essential retail outlets has been published by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).  Posters and signs for your premises The Department of Health has developed public health information posters and social distancing graphics to display on your premises. Public health advice posters Physical distancing graphics HSE posters and resources  You can also use the Department’s established Business Support Call Centre for information on the government supports available to businesses and enterprises affected by COVID-19. Tel: +353 1 631 2002 Email: infobusinesssupport@dbei.gov.ie  

Mar 26, 2020
Public Policy

  In this week’s Public Policy bulletin, read about how CCAB-I is the fifth most active group lobbying on behalf of its members’ interest in Ireland. Also, read about the EU’s new country-by-country reports.   CCAB-I identified as fifth most active lobbying group in Ireland The Second Statutory Review of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 published on 25 February. The review of the Act, described as providing transparency on ‘who is lobbying whom about what’, was seen as an opportunity to take stock of its impact, to see how it is working in practice and to see what issues and challenges it presents. According to the Register of Lobbying, the Consultative Committee of Accounting Bodies Ireland (CCAB-I) was in the top five organisations in Ireland with the greatest amount of lobbying activity. This was from a total of more than 40,000 returns which had been submitted to as at 21 January 2020 from over 1,900 persons and organisations registered on the Register. The top ten policy areas cited in returns include economic development and industry, coming second after health, and taxation and EU Affairs coming ninth and tenth place respectively.   Employment skills key to Ireland’s sustainable and inclusive growth The EU Commission has published its country reports focussing on Member States’ environmental sustainability, productivity gains, fairness and macroeconomic stability. For the first time, the reports assess Member States’ progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ireland’s country report identifies, among other things, closing employment related skill gaps and encouraging key social, environmental and productive investment to provide the foundations for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Feb 28, 2020
Public Policy

The 33rd Dáil convened for the first-time last week, as 48 new TDs and 112 returning TDs took their seats. Other news in this Public Policy Bulletin includes the new UK points-based immigration system and what it will mean for workers in the future.   33rd Dáil convenes as parties put in nominations for next Taoiseach The 33rd Dáil, comprising 160 elected TDs, convened for the first time on 20 February 2020, since the General Election 2020 wrapped up. The day saw 48 TDs taking their seat for the first time and the rest returning to fulfil their duties as Deputies. With Seán Ó Fearghaíl re-elected as the Ceann Comhairle (chairperson) of Dáil Éireann, parties also put in their individual nominations for the next Taoiseach. The sitting was followed by Leo Varadkar’s visit to the Arás to tender his resignation as Taoiseach, but he has announced that he will continue in a caretaker role until the next government is formed. The Dáil is now adjourned for two weeks until 5 March 2020. New UK points-based immigration system announced The UK Government has released a new points-based immigration system which will regulate the flow of workers into the UK and replace existing rules from 1 January 2021, when the country will no longer be subject to European Union regulations.   The new points-based immigration system will award points for specific skills, professions, salaries or qualifications/attributes, and visas will be awarded to those who gain sufficient points. The UK Government has also said that the new system will not include a visa option for low-skilled migrant workers, but that it will make it easier for higher-skilled workers to get UK visas. Their released Policy Statement says that “employers will need to adjust” to this change, and the overall aim is to end free movement within the EU and introduce an Immigration Bill to implement the points-based system. The Policy Statement also outlines the salary threshold for skilled migrants, which will be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600 for those coming to the UK with a job offer. The announcement of the system was accompanied by warnings from various advisory groups on the adverse effects it was likely to have on the economy, particularly on sectors such as care, construction and hospitality. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also said the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland will not be affected post-Brexit. Marathon EU Budget negotiations end in stand-still EU leaders reconvened last week to continue negotiations on setting their seven-year budget from 2021-2027, however the two-day marathon negotiations ended in a standstill. Following the UK’s departure from the EU as a Member State, the EU-27 were faced with the challenge to plug a €75bn hole in the forthcoming seven-year budget. With Ireland’s priorities lying in maintaining farm spending at current levels, the current proposals under the Common Agricultural Policy to make cuts of up to €53bn are a concern. You can find more information on how the EU budget works on the European Commission’s dedicated website.   You can also view all updates on our Public Policy web centre.  

Feb 21, 2020
Public Policy

After two days of jampacked vote counting and three-and-a-half weeks of busy campaigning, the 160 seats in the 33rd Dáil are finally filled. A three-way majority deadlock has emerged between Fianna Fáil (38 seats), Sinn Féin (37 seats) and Fine Gael (35 seats), there is no clear winner in terms of the majority in the Dáil. With talks of a potential coalition on the horizon, read our election update for a quick look at the results and what’s next.     The demographics With over 3.4 million citizens eligible to vote in the General Election 2020, the election saw a voter turnout of 62.9 per cent to vote for 515 candidates running in 39 constituencies. As each constituency has a specific number of seats that need to be filled, those seats will make up the 33rd Dáil. Ultimately, a party needs to win 80 seats to achieve the majority. The number of Dáil members is not fixed, but the Constitution provides that there must be at least one TD for every 20,000 to 30,000 people in Ireland. There were 158 TDs in the 32nd Dáil, and there will be 160 TDs in the 33rd Dáil.   The result   After two days of jampacked vote counting and three-and-a-half weeks of busy campaigning, the 160 seats in the 33rd Dáil are finally full, and the General Election 2020 has concluded (for now). With a three-way deadlock emerging between the biggest contenders, Fianna Fáil (38 seats), Sinn Féin (37 seats) and Fine Gael (35 seats), there is no clear winner in terms of the majority in the Dáil. However, a historic election in many ways, the change in peoples’ opinions has been highlighted by their voting pattern. The smaller parties have also seen a remarkable resurgence in terms of support, with the Green Party coming out with 12 seats and Social Democrats winning 6 seats. With all 160/160 seats filled, we’ve provided readers with a summary of the current seat allocation, and the change in first preference votes since the last General Election held in 2016.    Political Party No. of seats in GE 2020 % of 1st Preference Vote (39/39 1st counts)in GE 2020 % Share - Change since GE 2016 Fine Gael 35 20.9 -4.7 FiannaFáil 38 22.2 -2.2 SinnFéin 37 24.5 +10.7 Labour 6 4.4 -2.2 Green Party 12 7.1 +4.4 Social Democrats 6 2.9 -0.1 Independent 19 12.2 -3.5 Table 1: Figures taken from RTÉ    What issues influenced the voters?  According to an exit poll conducted by Ipsos/MRBI, party policies and opinions on issues of Health (32 per cent) and Housing/Homelessness (26 per cent) were the top deciding factors for the many people voting. Following shortly behind were Pension Age (8 per cent), Climate Change and Jobs (6 per cent each), and Taxation (4 per cent). With the poll result based on the responses of more than 5,000 people at 250 polling stations across the country immediately after they voted, the exit poll suggests that only one per cent of respondents were concerned about the issue of Brexit.       What’s next?   With all parties nowhere near the coveted 80 seats needed to secure a Dáil majority, we may see the larger parties considering potential coalition options with their smaller counterparts. With talks currently underway between party leaders, the process to get a Government in place is ongoing.     Where can I see updates?    You can view live updates on developments in the elections in real time on the RTE Election 2020 page. You can also read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre.    

Feb 14, 2020
Public Policy

With the first preference count having taken place in all 39 counties, the second and third vote count for the Irish General Election 2020 are currently underway. With more than half of seats filled in the 33rd Dáil, read our election update as of 1pm on 10 February 2020 for a quick look at the results so far.     Is the vote count still on?  The final vote count from the General Election 2020 is currently underway. With the first preference count having taken place in all 39 constituencies, the second and third counts are currently taking place (as at 10 February 2020). With over 3.4 million citizens eligible to vote in the General Election 2020, the election saw a voter turnout of 62.9 per cent to vote for 515 candidates running in 39 constituencies. As each constituency has a specific number of seats that need to be filled, those seats will make up the 33rd Dáil. Ultimately, a party needs to win 80 seats to achieve the majority.    What does the exit poll say?  A historic election in many ways, the change in peoples’ opinions has been highlighted by their voting pattern. According to an exit poll conducted by Ipsos/MRBI, party policies and opinions on issues of Health (32 per cent) and Housing/Homelessness (26 per cent) were the top deciding factors for the many people voting. Following shortly behind were Pension Age (8 per cent), Climate Change and Jobs (6 per cent each), and Taxation (4 per cent). With the poll result based on the responses of more than 5,000 people at 250 polling stations across the country immediately after they voted, the exit poll suggests that only one per cent of respondents were concerned about the issue of Brexit.   With 84/160 seats filled currently, we’ve provided readers with a summary of the current seat allocation, and the change in first preference votes since the last General Election held in 2016.    Political Party No. of seats in GE 2020 % of 1st Preference Vote (39/39 1st counts)in GE 2020 % Share - Change since GE 2016 Fine Gael 14 20.9 -4.7 FiannaFáil 17 22.2 -2.2 SinnFéin 30 24.5 +10.7 Labour 2 4.4 -2.2 Green Party 5 7.1 +4.4 Social Democrats 3 2.9 -0.1 Independent 9 12.2 -3.5 Table 1: Figures taken from RTÉ    Where can I see live updates?  You can view live updates on the election results in real time on the RTE Election 2020 page, and live updates from your constituency on the RTE website. You can also look back on our summary of the key commercial elements of the contending party manifestos.

Feb 10, 2020
Public Policy

In this week’s Public Policy bulletin, all party manifestos with key policies and election pledges have now been released ahead of polling day on Saturday 8 February, this week. Take a look at some of their key commitments.   Party manifestos for 2020 General election now released With only five days to go to the 2020 General Elections in Ireland, the top political parties have now released their election manifestos. With key issues such as taxation, housing, pensions and climate taking centre stage, each party has its own set of key commitments made towards the people of Ireland. The manifestos can be found below: Fine Gael (“A future to look forward to”) Fianna Fáil (“An Ireland for all”) Labour (“Building an equal society”) Green (“Towards 2030: A decade of change”) Sinn Fein (“Giving workers and families a break”) Social Democrats (“Invest in better”)   What next? We will  be analysing party manifestos this week, so keep an eye out for updates in our news bulletin and on our website. You can also take a look at the candidate profiles for your constituency using the Constituency Profiles tracker.   Read all our updates in our Public Policy web centre.

Feb 03, 2020
Public Policy

In this week’s Public Policy bulletin, candidate nominations for the upcoming General Election in Ireland have closed with over 500 candidates in the race. Candidate nominations close for General Election on 8 February 2020 With Ireland’s General Election set to be held on Saturday, 8 February 2020, the deadline for candidate nominations has now passed. After the close of nominations on Wednesday 22 January, there are 531 candidates in the race, out of which 162 are women. This makes up for 30 per cent of the candidacy. You can take a look at the candidate profiles for your constituency using the Constituency Profiles tracker. Readers are informed that Wednesday 22 January was also the deadline for people who are not registered to vote to get on the Supplementary Register of Electors.   What next? As the election campaign passes the halfway mark, political parties are vigorously campaigning across Ireland, with new policies on rural development, taxation, rent and pensions taking centre stage. With only over two weeks to go to the election date, candidates and voters are gearing up to elect a new Government for the next five years. With the 32nd Dáil now dissolved, the new Dáil will meet for the first time on Thursday, 20 February. There were 158 seats in the 32nd Dail, with 160 predicted in the next one to reflect the growing population of Ireland. We will  be covering major party manifestos over the next week, so keep an eye out for updates in our news bulletin and on our website. You can also visit the Oireachtas website to learn more about the voting system in Ireland. You can also   Read all our updates in our Public Policy web centre.

Jan 23, 2020
Public Policy

  In this week’s Public Policy bulletin, read about the upcoming General Election in Ireland scheduled for 8 February 2020. Also, read about the EU’s new European Green Deal Investment Plan and Just Transition Mechanism.   Ireland gears up for General Election on 8 February 2020 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed that Ireland’s General Election is set to be held on Saturday, 8 February 2020. With just three weeks to go to the election date, candidates and voters are gearing up for an early election to elect a new Government for the next five years. With the 32nd Dáil now dissolved, the new Dáil will meet for the first time on Thursday, 20 February. There were158 seats in the 32nd Dail, with 160 predicted in the next one to reflect the growing population of Ireland. We will  be covering developments in the election process over the next three weeks, so keep an eye out for updates in our news bulletin and on our website. You can also visit the Oireachtas website to learn more about the voting system in Ireland.   EU announces European Green Deal Investment Plan and Just Transition Mechanism The European Commission unveiled last week, its one trillion-euro investment plan to put Europe on track to reach the 2050 emissions-neutrality goal, while also helping coal-producing regions to move away from fossil fuels. With this news coming at the helm of the launch of the European Green Deal, the European Green Deal Investment Plan aims to mobilise resources, and provide tailored financial and practical support to help workers and generate the necessary investments in those areas. The same message was echoed by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on her inaugural visit to Ireland last week.   Read all our updates in our Public Policy web centre.    

Jan 17, 2020