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Bosses concerned about isolation among remote workers – IoD Survey

A new survey shows that the isolation of staff and a lack of cohesion of teams who are working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic are among the chief concerns of business leaders. 

The survey from the Institute of Directors in Ireland shows that only 12% of respondents expressed concern about remote working productivity rates, which has sometimes been cited in the past as a potential barrier to increased remote working practices.

The IoD research also finds that 64% of business leaders believe the majority of their staff will be back in the company workplace by the end of September 2021.

15% of business chiefs predicted that they will be back in the office in the first quarter of 2021, while 26% said the second quarter, 23% said the third quarter and 12% said the final quarter of next year. 

10% think all or most staff will work remotely in the future. 

Today’s survey also reveals that 39% of business leaders believed remote working has been a positive and productive experience for their organisation, while 24% said it has not and 35% were undecided. 

It also shows that cyber security has also been a key focus for business leaders during the Covid-19 crisis.

43% of bosses said their company’s cyber security measures have increased due to the prevalence of remote working, data transfer and video conferencing. 17% said their cyber security needs to be increased.

IoD Ireland’s Director Sentiment Monitor survey for the third quarter of the year was conducted between October 2020 16 and 27, amongst its 3,000 members, comprising CEOs and company directors.

Maura Quinn, the chief executive of the Institute of Directors in Ireland, said the historical view that most business leaders are concerned about the productivity of staff who work remotely is debunked by this survey, which finds that it is the isolation of staff, and the potential of teams working in silos or a lack of cohesion of teams, that are their primary concerns. 

“Indeed, this is reinforced by another of our findings that a majority of business leaders believes remote working has been a positive and productive experience for their organisation,” Maura Quinn said.

She said that although the promise of Covid-19 vaccines is tantalisingly close, business leaders clearly believe that remote working will continue well into 2021.

Article Source: Bosses concerned about isolation among remote workers – IOD Survey – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Bosses concerned about isolation among remote workers – IoD Survey

A new survey shows that the isolation of staff and a lack of cohesion of teams who are working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic are among the chief concerns of business leaders. 

The survey from the Institute of Directors in Ireland shows that only 12% of respondents expressed concern about remote working productivity rates, which has sometimes been cited in the past as a potential barrier to increased remote working practices.

The IoD research also finds that 64% of business leaders believe the majority of their staff will be back in the company workplace by the end of September 2021.

15% of business chiefs predicted that they will be back in the office in the first quarter of 2021, while 26% said the second quarter, 23% said the third quarter and 12% said the final quarter of next year. 

10% think all or most staff will work remotely in the future. 

Today’s survey also reveals that 39% of business leaders believed remote working has been a positive and productive experience for their organisation, while 24% said it has not and 35% were undecided. 

It also shows that cyber security has also been a key focus for business leaders during the Covid-19 crisis.

43% of bosses said their company’s cyber security measures have increased due to the prevalence of remote working, data transfer and video conferencing. 17% said their cyber security needs to be increased.

IoD Ireland’s Director Sentiment Monitor survey for the third quarter of the year was conducted between October 2020 16 and 27, amongst its 3,000 members, comprising CEOs and company directors.

Maura Quinn, the chief executive of the Institute of Directors in Ireland, said the historical view that most business leaders are concerned about the productivity of staff who work remotely is debunked by this survey, which finds that it is the isolation of staff, and the potential of teams working in silos or a lack of cohesion of teams, that are their primary concerns. 

“Indeed, this is reinforced by another of our findings that a majority of business leaders believes remote working has been a positive and productive experience for their organisation,” Maura Quinn said.

She said that although the promise of Covid-19 vaccines is tantalisingly close, business leaders clearly believe that remote working will continue well into 2021.

Article Source: Bosses concerned about isolation among remote workers – IOD Survey – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

No changes to Central Bank’s mortgage rules

The Central Bank has today left its key rules on mortgage lending unchanged and also extended its relaxation of certain regulations on bank reserves into next year.

However, the Governor of the Central Bank warned the situation facing the economy is still “very challenging” with “heightened uncertainty” over the implications of higher corporate and sovereign debt levels. 

In its latest Financial Stability Review, the Central Bank lays out the case that its mortgage rules have helped improve the ability of both borrowers and lenders to withstand shocks like Covid-19. 

It noted that mortgages which began in the 2010s and would have come under the current rules were less likely to have availed of payment breaks during the pandemic. 

The current Central Bank rules restrict the loan to value limits on a mortgage to between 70% and 90% of the value of a property and varies depending on whether the borrower is a first time buyer or some trading up. 

The loan to income rule is three and a half times salary, but there is some leeway for banks to go above these limits. 

The Central Bank has noted a recent recovery in mortgage demand, but overall in the year to October mortgage lending is down 18% over the same period last year. 

The bank said it believes the fallout from the pandemic is the main driver of what is happening in the market. 

Central Bank Governor Gabriel Makhlouf said bad debts have begun to appear across households and businesses and he warned that the shock from Covid-19 “hasn’t played out completely.”  

The Central Bank also announced that its Counter-Cyclical Capital Buffer will remain at 0% into next year. 

This means banks can continue to use some of their financial resources to support lending rather than keeping them back as a reserve in the Central Bank.  

Today’s report also points out that the failure to agree a Brexit trade deal remains the biggest risk to the economy and financial system.

It warns that it has the potential to amplify the risks which are already there due to the pandemic, adding that some Irish banks have significant exposure to the UK.  

The Central Bank also warns that the commercial property sector is particularly exposed to the shock from Covid and the potential for a structural shift due to changes in how people work.  

But overall, the Central Bank believes the banking sector here is in better shape to withstand what could be an uneven recovery next year.  

Article Source: No changes to Central Bank’s mortgage rules – RTE – Robert Shortt

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

No changes to Central Bank’s mortgage rules

The Central Bank has today left its key rules on mortgage lending unchanged and also extended its relaxation of certain regulations on bank reserves into next year.

However, the Governor of the Central Bank warned the situation facing the economy is still “very challenging” with “heightened uncertainty” over the implications of higher corporate and sovereign debt levels. 

In its latest Financial Stability Review, the Central Bank lays out the case that its mortgage rules have helped improve the ability of both borrowers and lenders to withstand shocks like Covid-19. 

It noted that mortgages which began in the 2010s and would have come under the current rules were less likely to have availed of payment breaks during the pandemic. 

The current Central Bank rules restrict the loan to value limits on a mortgage to between 70% and 90% of the value of a property and varies depending on whether the borrower is a first time buyer or some trading up. 

The loan to income rule is three and a half times salary, but there is some leeway for banks to go above these limits. 

The Central Bank has noted a recent recovery in mortgage demand, but overall in the year to October mortgage lending is down 18% over the same period last year. 

The bank said it believes the fallout from the pandemic is the main driver of what is happening in the market. 

Central Bank Governor Gabriel Makhlouf said bad debts have begun to appear across households and businesses and he warned that the shock from Covid-19 “hasn’t played out completely.”  

The Central Bank also announced that its Counter-Cyclical Capital Buffer will remain at 0% into next year. 

This means banks can continue to use some of their financial resources to support lending rather than keeping them back as a reserve in the Central Bank.  

Today’s report also points out that the failure to agree a Brexit trade deal remains the biggest risk to the economy and financial system.

It warns that it has the potential to amplify the risks which are already there due to the pandemic, adding that some Irish banks have significant exposure to the UK.  

The Central Bank also warns that the commercial property sector is particularly exposed to the shock from Covid and the potential for a structural shift due to changes in how people work.  

But overall, the Central Bank believes the banking sector here is in better shape to withstand what could be an uneven recovery next year.  

Article Source: No changes to Central Bank’s mortgage rules – RTE – Robert Shortt

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Switching off: Do workers have a ‘right to disconnect’?

The line between work and home life has blurred for many over the past few months. 

While there are countless benefits to remote working, turning your home environment into an office can make it harder to switch off at the end of the day. 

With email and text alerts pinging on mobile phones and other devices, many are finding it impossible to avoid responding to late night messages. 

So, does Ireland need to introduce a legal ‘right to disconnect’ or does our current legislation already provide for this? 

Does Ireland need new legislation? 

As it stands, there is no legally defined ‘right to disconnect’ in Ireland. 

However, the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 does give employees some protection. 

According to Linda Hynes, partner with law firm Lewis Silkin Ireland, workers have an implied right to switch off under this legislation. 

It states that employers cannot permit employees in Ireland to work more than 48 hours per week on average, but Ms Hynes said there are some limited exceptions.

“It is averaged out over a certain period, so there are cases where in some weeks an employee may work more than 48 hours and that is not considered a breach unless it is happening on a regular basis.” 

While workers in the UK can opt out of the maximum working week rule, Ms Hynes said it is not an option in Ireland. 

The Organisation of Working Time legislation also sets out minimum requirements in relation to daily and weekly rest periods for employees. 

“At the end of each working day an employee is supposed to have at least 11 hours rest and a weekly rest of 24 hours in a row, which would usually be at the weekend,” Ms Hynes said. 

Under the legislation, employers are obliged to keep a record of the working hours of all employees.

According to the Workplace Relations Commission, failure by employers to keep adequate records of working time is the most common breach of employment legislation. 

Employers can be held liable if an employee suffers an injury or illness due to work related stress, Ms Hynes explained. 

“For example, if an employer knows that an employee is consistently working very long hours and working late, then it is foreseeable that the employee may suffer work related stress or burnout. 

“The employer would be expected to put measures in place to reduce that risk for the employee,” she said. 

Have employers been taken to court? 

In 2019, Grainne O’Hara brought a case against her former employer Kepak under the Working Time legislation. 

The case went before the Labour Court, where Ms O’Hara was awarded €7,500 in compensation for the employer’s breach of Working Time legislation. 

Ms Hynes said this is the most clearly aligned case in Ireland in relation to the right to disconnect. 

“The Labour Court found that the employer was aware of her working patterns, so they knew she was answering emails after her working hours. 

“Also, a fatal issue for the employer in this case was that they didn’t have proper records of her working time and they hadn’t spoken to her about how she was not required to answer emails after certain times,” she said.

What countries have introduced legislation? 

In 2017, France introduced the legal ‘right to disconnect’ for employees. 

It requires employers to negotiate agreements with the employee unions for a right to disconnect from technology after hours. 

If the union and the employer didn’t reach an agreement, then the employer had to establish a policy on the ‘right to disconnect’.

Ms Hynes said the law didn’t specify what procedures employers had to put in place. 

“It is difficult to see the effectiveness of this,” she said.. 

“From what I can see, a lot of companies are still negotiating with unions and are still trying to get their rules in place around what their right to disconnect procedures are going to be,” she added. 

Similar legislation has been introduced in other jurisdictions, including Belgium, Canada, India, the Philippines and Portugal.

Why are some groups against introducing new legislation?

Employers’ group Ibec believes there is no need for further legislation. 

Maeve McElwee, Director of Employer Relations, said they feel the current Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 already provides for an effective right to disconnect. 

“I think what is needed is a culture shift and good guidance from employers about how people should interact during their working day or working week,” she said. 

According to Ms McElwee, legislation tends to be “very defined” and “rigid”, which can cause issues. 

“We feel that codes of practice or guidance offer individuals and organisations much more flexibility to be able to adapt to individual employees’ needs and to be able to help them with their changing requirements. 

“Flexibility is actually as valuable to employees as it is to employers, as it allows them to be able to combine their personal commitments with their working time,” she added. 

Have any Irish companies introduced their own policies? 

AIB has introduced its own ‘right to disconnect’ policy with the Financial Services Union, which it says is the first of its kind in Ireland. 

Geraldine Casey, AIB Chief People Officer, described the policy as a set of “guiding principles,” to help employees with their work-life balance. 

“It advises people to schedule meetings during normal working hours and to avoid organising meetings during lunchtime – and also to only invite people who really need to be there,” she explained. 

The policy also encourages employees not to send or check emails outside of normal working hours, to ensure staff have downtime in the evenings. 

Some AIB staff members who are working flexible hours have chosen to include a message below their email signature, which reads: “I am currently working flexible hours, so while it suits me to send this email now, I do not expect a response or action outside of your own working hours.” 

While the AIB ‘right to disconnect’ policy isn’t strictly enforced, Ms Casey said it is based on trust.

What bills have been introduced in the Dáil?

Earlier this month, both Sinn Féin and Labour introduced bills which would give workers a legal ‘right to disconnect’.

Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Louise O’Reilly said she felt that technological developments have led to an “always on” culture in Ireland.

“As a result, I have introduced this bill which seeks to regulate excessive out-of-hours contact between employers and staff via email, messaging apps or phone, and essentially give them a legal right to disconnect, or switch off from work,” she said. 

Labour leader Alan Kelly said their bill requires employers to set out what their policy is in relation to out-of-hours communication.

“It is important that employees are not punished for failing to respond to emails or other communications outside of office hours,” he said.

Will Government introduce the legal ‘right to disconnect’?

It is still not clear if new legislation will be introduced in this area.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar acknowledged that some legislation will require amendment, including the Organisation of Working Time Act.

He said he will bring forward proposals on the ‘right to disconnect’ in the new year. 

“We are examining other jurisdictions, with a view to seeing whether their laws have actually made a difference, because there is little point in passing a law that doesn’t really make a difference,” he said.

Article Source: Switching off: Do workers have a ‘right to disconnect’? – RTE – Gill Stedman

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ECB warns against early withdrawal of Covid supports

The European Central Bank has said if governments withdraw financial support from households and companies too early, it could “set back the economic recovery”. 

In its latest Financial Stability Review published today, the ECB says “vulnerabilities in the corporate sector are increasing as the pandemic evolves”.

This could “test the resilience of euro area banks in the future,” it added. 

It described the prospects for bank profitability across the euro zone as “weak” and suggested that losses could appear after a recovery takes hold. 

ECB Vice-President Luis de Guindos described the provisions some banks have made as “optimistic”. 

The report also said the sharp rise in corporate and sovereign indebtedness had increased the risks to financial stability. 

The ECB also said that house prices in the euro zone are in for a reality check as a pandemic-induced recession pushes more people out of work and hits household confidence. 

Residential property prices were remarkably resilient during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, rising by 5% in the first half of 2020, thanks to loan repayment moratoria and job protection schemes put in place by governments. 

But, with some of these measures expiring and economic indicators pointing downwards, the ECB said the outlook is now less rosy. 

“Residential real estate price growth might face headwinds going forward as a result of a marked decline in GDP, consumer confidence and employment expectations,” the ECB said in its Financial Stability Report. 

At a country level, valuations appeared most stretched in Luxembourg. The most indebted households were to be found in the Netherlands. 

Banks have already been tightening access to credit while demand has also been easing, the ECB’s latest survey showed last month. 

Other areas of concern for the ECB included the prospect of ballooning government debt if governments, particularly in southern Europe, are called upon to make good on their guarantees on corporate loans. 

That could add up to 8% to Spain’s government debt, 5% to France’s and 3% to Italy’s. 

“As governments are backstopping the economy, sovereign vulnerabilities in the medium term have increased, but remain contained in the short run,” the ECB said.

Article Source: ECB warns against early withdrawl of Covid supports – RTE – Robert Shortt

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UK fiscal watchdog warns of impact of no-deal Brexit

Britain’s independent fiscal watchdog, the Office of Budget Responsibility, has said a no-deal Brexit at the end of this year will cut economic growth and increase unemployment.

In addition to economic damage caused by Covid-19, which has already caused the biggest fall in UK economic output since 1709, it said a no-deal Brexit will also push up the cost of living for consumers/

In an economic assessment used as the basis for government spending plans announced by UK chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, the OBR said the UK economy will shrink by 19% this year due to the impact of the pandemic.

The OBR assumes the UK economy will grow at a slower pace from next year as a result of leaving the EU in any case, but said failure to agree a Free Trade deal with the EU in the coming weeks will worsen that negative effect.

It said a no-deal Brexit would delay the point at which the UK’s economic output returns to pre-Covid level by almost a whole year, to the third quarter of 2023.

The OBR said Border disruptions would cut output by 0.75% of GDP – approximately £15bn – in the first quarter of next year, but would disappear by the end of the year as businesses and government adjust to the new trading arrangements.

However, longer-term effects from decreased productivity and capital decreases deepening due to lower investment and higher structural unemployment would continue to add to economic underperformance.

It said consumer prices would be 1.5% higher than their central forecast without a deal with the EU, with 1% of that rise coming from tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade, and 0.5% coming from a 5% fall in the value of sterling, making imports more expensive.

It said customs duties imposed by the UK under a WTO trade arrangement with the EU would bring in an extra £6bn in custom revenue.

However, this would be more than offset by a £14bn reduction in all other revenues caused by having a smaller economy, leaving tax receipts £6bn worse off than if Britain does a deal with the EU.

It also assumes that this worse economic situation would result in an extra £4bn in defaults on government-guaranteed loan schemes for businesses as part of its Covid-19 response.

Earlier, Chancellor Sunak announced a new £4bn “levelling up” fund for investment.

The OBR also expects a rise in non-compliance with VAT and customs and excise payments over the next two years, due to a lack of readiness of the UK border system and the lack of familiarity and preparedness among businesses.

Overall the OBR said not doing a deal with the EU will force the British government to borrow an extra £10bn per year from next year on, driving the debt:GDP ratio higher by almost 3% by 2025/26.

All of this would be in addition to the impact of Covid-19, which has delivered the largest peacetime shock to the global economy on record.

The UK economy has been hit relatively hard by the virus and by the public health restrictions required to control it.

During the first wave of infections, the UK locked down later and for longer than some of its European neighbours and experienced a deeper fall and slower recovery in economic activity.

The second wave of infections is “taking the wind out of an already flagging recovery”, according to the OBR.

That includes the UK, where GDP is set to fall by 11% this year the largest drop in annual output since the Great Frost of 1709 – a period of exceptionally cold weather in Europe that caused crop failures and widespread famine.

This year the pandemic has hit the UK public finances, with tax receipts forecast to be £57bn lower and spending £281bn higher than last year.

The total cost of government spending to deal with the pandemic including the direct payments to support workers’ income – has risen from £181bn at the time of the Summer Economic Update, to £218bn at the time of the Winter Economy Plan, to £280bn in this forecast.

All of this has pushed the UK budget deficit this year to an estimated £394bn (19% of GDP), its highest level since 1944-45.

Such borrowing would take the debt: GDP ratio to 105% of GDP, which would be the highest level since 1959-60, although the exceptionally low interest rate environment makes that easier to bear.

British government borrowing is forecast to fall back to around £102bn (3.9% of GDP) by 2025-26, but “even on the loosest conventional definition of balancing the books, a fiscal adjustment of £27bn (1% of GDP) would be required to match day-to-day spending to receipts by the end of the five-year forecast period”, according to the OBR.

This implies a tough set of budget choices in the coming years, including tax rises and spending cuts.

The OBR added: “In our central forecast and downside scenario, tax rises or spending cuts of between £21bn and £46bn (between 0.8% and 1.8% of GDP) would be required merely to stop debt rising relative to GDP”.

It said as support schemes for workers are withdrawn next spring, the UK unemployment rate will rise from 3.9% forecast last March to 7.5% next year.

However, it said if the UK leaves the EU transition period without a deal, unemployment will be 8.3%.

In a worst case scenario, in which vaccines are unsuccesful and the virus is not contained, the OBR said unemployment could rise to 12%.

The OBR said the economic impact of a no-deal Brexit would be different and in addition to that of Covid-19.

It said the virus has mainly impacted non-traded face-to-face services such as hospitality, transport and entertainment.

But failure to strike a trade deal with the EU would mean a hit to the trade-intensive sectors of manufacturing, financial services, and mining and quarrying – the sectors that have been least impacted by Covid-19.

Article Source: US fiscal watchdog warns of impact of no-deal Brexit – RTE – Sean Whelan

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Traffic light system proposed for non-EU air travel

A draft report from the Oireachtas Transport Committee has recommended that a traffic light system for countries outside the EU be developed before Christmas.

The draft report, on issues affecting the aviation industry, has recommended 19 actions in total. It is due to be formally published later this week.

Among the changes recommended is to develop a traffic light system for countries outside the EU, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, ahead of Christmas, which would provide clarity to those living abroad.

The committee also wants to see the roll-out of rapid antigen tests for people arriving from all countries.

Members believe that this would complement current testing requirements in place for orange and red countries. 

At present, Ireland is currently in the orange zone of the EU traffic light system.

Passengers from orange regions who have a negative test result for Covid-19 up to three days prior to departure do not need to restrict their movements on arrival in most countries.

Among the recommendations is for Government to consider extending the Airport Charges Rebate Scheme beyond March 2021.

This move would benefit airlines and would, according to the report, make it easier to maintain connectivity to airports during the summer season.

The draft report also calls for the Government to seek a derogation from State Aid rules for emergency funding to Irish airports.

Travel agents, according to the report, should have access to the “Covid Restrictions Subsidy Scheme [CRSS]” at all levels of Covid-19 restrictions.

This is due to the “severe limitations” placed on their businesses.

The report also recommends that the wider tourism and hospitality sector continues to be addressed “in any future supports for businesses impacted by Covid-19”.

Article Source: Traffic light system proposed for non-EU air travel – RTE – Tommy Meskill

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

5 top tips for borrowing at Christmas

Last week, I spoke about making cents this Christmas. The expression ‘things are tight at Christmas’ resonates with many of us at this time though the lockdowns have precluded many from spending and there have been sizeable savings locked away.

Bernard Manning once quipped: “For Christmas this year I gave my kids a set of batteries with a note attached – toys not included…” 

Some families simply cannot afford life’s little luxuries while some will just borrow and worry later. Those who haven’t saved during the year for their Yuletide expenditure or simply haven’t got the money have little choice but to borrow if they choose not to spend.

With four weeks to go to Christmas, John Lowe of Money Doctors gives his top five tips when it comes to borrowing if you have to…

1.  Work out what you have to spend, only borrow that amount and ensure you repay within 12 months
Bundle all your presents costs, the extras ( tree, decorations, cards, etc ) plus food and drink – not forgetting entertainment. The total is the amount of money you are going to spend. So, where are you getting this from? If borrowing, how are you going to repay?

It’s important to know how much you need and where you are getting it from if you haven’t saved it. Christmas comes around every year so ensure that the loan is repaid within 12 months. Ideal of course to save at the same time so you are not put in the same position next Christmas. 

2.  Make sure you have the capacity to repay the loan you have taken out
Income is your number one asset and it has to cover this loan and all other expenditure in the household. Absolutely no point in taking a loan out that you cannot afford to repay. So it’s back to that budget again and working out precisely what it costs to run your home on a monthly basis. Planning is the buzz word…

3.  Check the interest rates
Financial institution interest rates differ when it comes to borrowing. There are four levels between overdrafts and personal unsecured loans.

Main street banks – they can charge up to 16%+ on overdrafts (an authorised loan on your current account that you MUST put back in credit for at least 30 days in a calendar year) exceeding overdrafts attracts a “surcharge” in some cases an EXTRA 12%. The cost of just negotiating an overdraft is €25. Their personal loans (unsecured) can range from 12% to 20%+ …not the cheapest and attract some of the highest interest rates.

Credit unions & An Post Money – probably the most flexible and cheapest. Credit unions are individually independent and you can only open one where you live or work. Normally they require one month’s membership before applying for loans. Virtually all credit unions are part of the Irish Credit Bureau ( www.icb.ie ) and the www.CentralCreditRegister.ie  so your credit standing is checked for every loan applied for by the 142 institutional members of both these credit agencies. A €2,000 loan over 12 months at 7.5% interest rate will cost you €177 per month.

Authorised money lenders – There are 37 money lenders authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland. They can charge interest rates of up to 200% and generally only provide short term (up to 6 months) loans of up to €500. They should be avoided if at all possible.

Unauthorised money lenders and pay day lenders – these should be avoided at all costs. A well known UK TV pay day loan advertisement had the temerity to display its APR at the end of the advert covering 25% of the screen on the bottom right hand corner. That APR was 1,294.1%. Doing without or seeking the help of St Vincent de Paul Society / Simon Community is preferable to taking out these kinds of loan.

4.  Credit cards – be careful with them
It is very easy to use your flexible friend when you have a limit not fully utilised. “Maxing out” your credit card will only confirm that come January, you can only afford to pay the minimum payment. That is generally 2% of the total owed. When you are being charged 22% + ( more if you are taking cash from ATMs ) it is no wonder that whatever your balance, it will take you 20 years to repay the debt completely.

There are four credit card providers that will allow you to transfer your card balance at 0% …  An Post Money is the best of them allowing you to transfer your balance to them at 0% for a whopping 12 months. You have to have good credit of course – email me for details.

5.  Think bigger picture
If you are one of those people who never plan, go from year to year stumbling in and out of Christmas, now is the time to stop and reassess. Start a plan. If you know the total of all Christmas expenditure, then divide that by 12 and start saving in January. Best regular saver account – saving between €100 and €1,000 per month for up to 12 months – is 1% ( 0.67% after DIRT Tax ) from both AIB Bank and Bank of Ireland. Couldn’t be simpler. Take care of yourselves.

Article Source: 5 tips for borrowing at Christmas – RTE – John Lowe

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Taoiseach remains hopeful Brexit deal can be agreed

The Taoiseach has said that Brexit amounts to the most significant fundamental economic change the country has faced in 50 years.

Speaking at Dublin Port, Micheál Martin said he remains hopeful that a deal can be struck, adding it is in the best interests of Ireland, the UK and the European Union.

He warned that, even with a deal, the seamless trade that has existed up to now will not continue.

The Taoiseach urged small businesses, which either export to or import from the UK, to register and engage.

He said he was concerned there was some complacency in the small and medium-sized enterprises sector and he urged these firms to prepare.

Asked if he was confident that dispute mechanisms in any agreement would be effective, Mr Martin said building trust would be the key priority once a deal was struck.

Earlier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator said “fundamental differences” persisted in trade talks with Britain but that both sides were pushing hard for a deal.

“After technical discussions this weekend, negotiations continue online today … Time is short. Fundamental divergences still remain, but we are continuing to work hard for a deal,” said Michel Barnier.

On Friday, it is understood that member states were told that 95% of the text was complete but there were still big gaps on fisheries, the so-called level playing field, governance and how disputes will be solved.

There is concern that the process will not have enough time.

The transition period ends at 11pm on 31 December and any deal will have to go through a series of time-consuming legal procedures, including ratification by the European Parliament.

Article Source: Taoiseach remains hopeful Brexit deal can be agreed – RTE – Paul Cunningham – Reuters

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000