News Archives - Page 3 of 526 - Pat Carroll PCCO - Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisors

Campaign encourages SMEs to save time, money and energy

Local Enterprise Offices have launched a campaign encouraging small businesses to avail of supports that will help them save time, money and energy.

The “All In A Day’s Work” campaign is focused on highlighting the supports that will enable small businesses to make significant changes to the way they work.

The supports include the Lean, Green and Digital programmes, all of whom enable small businesses to become more competitive and productive in how they work.

Figures from the Local Enterprise Offices show that the Lean for Business programme, running since 2015 with Enterprise Ireland, has helped save businesses an average of €34,000 by helping them work more efficiently and improving their processes.

The programme has saved Irish companies over €28 million since it began and is free to all small businesses through their Local Enterprise Office, who are based in the local authorities across the country.

The figures also highlighted that the businesses that did avail of these programmes had an average 31% increase in their output or production.

John Magee, chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices, said it has been a challenging few years for small businesses and those challenges will continue.

“That is why any business should be looking to make themselves more efficient, more productive, and more sustainable for now and the future,” he said.

“The figures speak for themselves on the impact these supports can have. We hope that this campaign will emphasise those benefits and encourage more small businesses to look at how their businesses can save time, money and energy by becoming more efficient and more sustainable. These are choices that will impact them positively both now and in the years ahead.”

Neale Richmond, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, encouraged any small businesses to reach out to Local Enterprise Offices to avail of supports.

Carol Gibbons, Head of Regions and Local Enterprise, at Enterprise Ireland said a key goal for Enterprise Ireland is to support companies to make the transition to the low-carbon, resource-efficient economy of the future and the ‘All in a Day’s Work’ campaign is a key part of supporting this critical agenda.

Article Source: Campaign encourages SMEs to save time, money and energy – RTE

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ECB governing council to make decision on interest rates

The European Central Bank’s governing council meets in Frankfurt today to decide if it will continue to increase interest rates as part of its efforts to bring inflation down.

Since July last year, the bank has increased rates after nine consecutive meetings.

The ECB has put up interest rates by over four percentage points since it began this round of rate increases in response to escalating inflation last year.

Inflation has halved since its peak last October. It is currently estimated to have been 5.3% in August across the euro area, unchanged from July.

In some countries, including Ireland, inflation went back up slightly last month off the back of higher oil prices. However, growth has stalled.

Earlier this week, the European Commission downgraded its growth forecasts for the euro area based on a sluggish German economy. It also forecast a further decline in euro area inflation to an average 5.6% this year.

The ECB will also update its forecasts for growth and inflation today.

With stubbornly high inflation but slower growth, today’s decision will be finely balanced.

Some are predicting the ECB may even pause for breath and leave rates – for at least this month – unchanged.

Article Source: ECB governing council to make decision on interest rates – Robert Shortt – RTE

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Surge in demand for IT and digital roles – ManpowerGroup survey

Despite fears of AI replacing jobs in the tech sector, there has been a surge in demand for workers in IT and digital roles, according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey.

It shows that IT sector hiring demand has climbed by 20% compared to the previous quarter.

The survey is based on responses from 408 employers across Ireland and asks whether they intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, the national hiring outlook is up 33%, an increase of seven percentage-points on last quarter and five percentage-points on Q4 2022.

The Communications Services sector reported the highest net employment outlook, followed by Financials and Real Estate and Healthcare and Life Sciences.

The IT sector reported the strongest increase in hiring plans since last quarter.

“Despite layoffs in Big Tech, demand from employers across Ireland’s tech sector has increased more than any other,” said John Galvin, Managing Director, ManpowerGroup Ireland.

“Far from employers seeking AI solutions to replace human jobs, employers report that human skills of communication, collaboration and teamwork are most important when looking for candidates,” Mr Galvin said.

More than half of employers in the IT sector said that AI will have a net positive impact on job opportunities, versus just 9% that say it will have a negative impact.

“Digital roles are still very much in demand, and it’s the human skills only a person can bring that they’re looking for most of all,” Mr Galvin said.

“The problem employers continue to face is finding those candidates in the current labour market,” he added.

Article Source: Surge in demand for IT and digital roles – ManpowerGroup survey – Brian O’Donovan – RTE

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Energy companies told to ‘go further’ on price cuts

The four main energy companies have been told that they must go further on price cuts, during a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and energy minister Eamon Ryan this afternoon.

The two ministers met the four largest suppliers – Electric Ireland, SSE Electricity, Bord Gáis and Energia.

Price reductions of between 10% and 20% have been announced by some suppliers in recent weeks.

These will kick in in October and November.

Commitments were given by suppliers during the meeting that hardship funds will be introduced again this year and disconnections minimised outside of the moratorium period.

The CRU will decide soon on this year’s Winter moratorium on disconnections.

“I’m particularly concerned about most vulnerable customers,” Mr Varadkar said in a social media post afterward, adding that “Government will continue to help too”.

Speaking earlier at Farmleigh House, Mr Varadkar said he was confident there will be a secure supply throughout the Winter.

He said that if a problem was to manifest itself, it would have been last year, but since then Ireland has built up energy stores and sought alternative sources.

Mr Varadkar also said there would be help for households on energy bills in the Budget using the proceeds of the new Windfall Tax.

The Taoiseach also said there would be help on energy bills in the Budget using the proceeds of the new Windfall Tax.

His comments come as Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said earlier that Government would “do its best for households” who he said are facing “unavoidable” higher bills due to the cost-of-living crisis.

“While there have been some energy price reductions made – prices remain too high. We know people are still facing pressure and we will act to help them again,” Mr Martin said.

Without specifically referencing a new round of electricity credits, he added: “We have to act with a combination of action to help people with major price increases and action to try to reduce pressures pushing up prices.”

Mr McGrath said it would be early October before he came to a view on what once-off measures would be contained in the budget. Last year, the figure was more than €4 billion.

He said that the four previous energy credits had been “very effective” but added each one cost €400m, adding these were “very significant and costly decisions.”

Mr McGrath warned that the Government also needs to be “careful” when framing Budget 2024 to ensure it is not adding to inflation.

Speaking in Co Tipperary, where the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party think-in is under way, Mr McGrath said spending big might help people in the short term but it would “cost all of us in long run” as interest rates would remain higher for longer.

He said the Government had to ensure, therefore, that it did not “add fuel to the fire”.

Mr McGrath said that all taxpayers would benefit from the €1.1bn which has been earmarked, but he has not formed a “settled view” on whether cutting the USC or by how much to raise the entry level to the highest tax bracket.

He said the €6.5bn Budget was being framed at a time when the international economic situation is deteriorating, something underlined by the recent forecasts from the European Commission.

This was “acting as a drag on economic performance” and Ireland was not “bullet-proof” – something proven by the fact that Irish export of goods is down year-on-year.

That said, Mr McGrath said the Government “absolutely acknowledges” many people are under significant financial pressure due to the fact that while inflation is going down – many prices remain high.

Article Source: Energy companies told to ‘go further’ on price cuts – Sandra Hurley – RTE

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Gas demand down by a fifth during mild August – GNI

Overall gas demand in August was well down on the same month last year amid mild and changeable weather.

According to the latest Gas Demand Statement from Gas Networks Ireland, gas demand in the month was down by a fifth on August of last year and by 2% on July.

Gas remained the biggest contributor to electricity generation this August, providing 46% of the country’s electricity needs in the month.

At times during August, gas powered almost 90% of the country’s electricity and never dropped below 13%.

Wind powered generation of electricity peaked at 78% but there were times during the month when the wind supply dropped to negligible levels and contributed less than 1% of electricity generation.

The overall contribution in the month from wind generation jumped from 19% in August of last year to 35% this year.

Coal contributed 3% to Ireland’s electricity generation in August, peaking at 13%, the report shows.

“Gas and wind generation collectively continue to dominate Ireland’s electricity supplies,” Gas Network Ireland’s Acting Director of Strategy and Regulation Brian Mullins said.

“Being able to harness wind energy when it is available, and back it up with the flexibility and reliability of gas when it’s not, provides a secure and complete energy system for the people of Ireland,” he added.

Article Source: Gas demand down by a fifth during mild August – GNI – RTE

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Number of female business leaders continues to rise, but slowly – CSO

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that Irish businesses continue to increase female representation at both senior executive and board level, albeit slowly.

However, the number of females in Chief Financial Officer positions continues to fall.

Carried out every two years, the CSO Gender Balance in Business Survey looks at female representation among senior executive teams and boards of directors in large enterprises with 250 or more employees on January 1st of this year.

It is the third time since 2019 that the data has been captured and almost 700 enterprises were surveyed, with 69% completing it, the CSO said.

The results show that 25% of Directors on boards here are women, an increase from almost 22% in 2021.

Representation levels were broadly similar in both Irish-owned as well as foreign-owned firms.

The research also found an increase in female Chairpersons, from 14% in 2021 to 19% in 2023.

At Chief Executive level 19% were women in 2023 compared with more than 13% in 2021.

There was also a slight increase in the overall number of female senior executives this year, rising to 30.4% in 2023 from 29.7% in 2021.

The level of female senior execs was slightly higher in foreign-owned firms here than it was in Irish-owned businesses.

But the data on the number of females at Chief Financial Officer level was less encouraging, falling to 25.7% this year from 28.1% in 2021, and 29.7% in 2019.

Today’s figures also show that almost one in four enterprises had at least 40% female representation at board level this year, compared with 18.4% in 2021.

41.4% of enterprises also said they had set targets for female representation at Senior Executive level this year.

When it came to senior executive appointments, 34.8% of female appointments were internal, compared to 37.9% external.

Sector by sector, female representation at senior executive level was highest in services, as well as accommodation and food services and financial and insurance.

It was lowest in construction.

Gillian Harford, Country Executive of the 30% Club, told RTÉ’s News at One that it was good to have this data as many EU countries do now have this. She also complimented the response rate, saying more than 500 organisations across Ireland took part.

The 30% Club is a global organisation led by Chairs and CEOs to increase gender diversity at board and senior management level.

“For the first time, we have very comprehensive data across a number of areas, and it is great to see the progress – and it’s also great to see the focus on C-suite as well as boards because feeder roles are really important in terms of pipeline,” Ms Harford said.

She said that progress has been seen across financial services, but even with areas like construction, which have a still relatively low female representation, have shown a significant increase from the last time the survey was done two years ago.

She said that gender equality on a worldwide frame brings value, but it must be applied to the top tables and not just across organisations.

“There is an initial value in terms of having gender balance in total across your organisation, but that advantage becomes far more exacerbated when you get gender balance where the senior decisions are made,” Ms Harford said.

Commenting on today’s figures, Chambers Ireland’s chief executive Ian Talbot said that seeing the number of women-led businesses rise from being only one-in-seven in 2021 to almost one-in-five in 2023 demonstrate how quickly change can happen when businesses and boards prioritise female appointments.

But he said that despite the significant improvements, today’s report also demonstrates how much further we still have to go.

“For many of the businesses involved, these new appointments will have been a challenge to deliver and will have required many years of effort to develop a culture that was both willing to develop the talent of women within the organisation, and also open to recognising the leadership potential in women from outside the organisation,” he said.

“This is a battle that needs to be won in every business, if we are to see women rise to their full potential across the labour force and if we are to ensure that their skills and talent are both recognised and employed to their fullest extent,” Mr Talbot said.

“One of the greatest constraints on our economy is the talent that has been overlooked merely because its possessor is a woman, we must not keep making that mistake,” he added.

Karen O’Reilly, founder of flexible employment agency Employflex, pointed out that the sample in today’s study is only representative of 69% of 700 companies surveyed and the types of companies that would respond are probably going to be scoring high on gender balance to begin with.

“From our perspective at Employflex and talking to women every day who approach us seeking flexible work, we know that women are burnt out and are leaving senior roles, particularly mothers who are experiencing the motherhood penalty, while trying to juggle it all,” Ms O’Reilly said.

She cautioned that companies who are not open to flexibility in the workplace are at a high risk of losing these experienced women.

“Many women feel they cannot ask for flexibility as this will negatively impact their career trajectory and also the fact their male colleagues generally do not avail of flexible work practices such as reduced hours, remote work or take their parental leave,” she said.

Article Source: Number of female business leaders continues to rise, but slowly – CSO – RTE

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EU Commission cuts euro zone growth forecast as Germany in recession

The euro zone economy will grow slower than previously expected this year and next, the European Commission forecast today.

This comes as consumer demand suffers from high inflation and the biggest economy, Germany, slips into recession this year.

In its interim forecasts for gross domestic product and inflation of the euro zone’s five biggest economies, the Commission said the single currency area’s GDP would expand 0.8% in 2023 and 1.3% in 2024.

This compares to forecasts of 1.1% and 1.6% respectively made in May.

“Weakness in domestic demand, in particular consumption, shows that high and still increasing consumer prices for most goods and services are taking a heavier toll than expected in the spring forecast,” the Commission said.

“This is despite declining energy prices and an exceptionally strong labour market, which has seen record low unemployment rates, continued expansion of employment, and rising wages,” it added.

The Commission forecast euro zone consumer inflation of 5.6% in 2023 and 2.9% in 2024, both well above the European Central Bank’s target of 2.0%.

Inflation this year is to be lower than the 5.8% forecast in May, but higher than previously forecast in 2024, as the May forecast was for 2.8%.

The ECB has been rapidly raising rates since the middle of 2022 to stem record price growth, making credit for the economy more expensive – a factor that hit the growth forecast.

“The sharp slowdown in the provision of bank credit to the economy shows that monetary policy tightening is working its way through the economy,” the Commission said.

“Survey indicators now point to slowing economic activity in the summer and the months ahead, with continued weakness in industry and fading momentum in services, despite a strong tourism season in many parts of Europe,” it said.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, will shrink 0.4% this year, the Commission forecast, revising down a 0.2% growth prediction from May. Next year, German growth will also be slower at 1.1% instead of the earlier expected 1.4.

Italy and the Netherlands will also grow more slowly this year, the Commission said, forecasting a GDP expansion of 0.9% and 0.5% respectively, down from 1.2% and 1.8% respectively.

But France and Spain will grow faster than previously expected in 2023 , the Commission said, projecting 1.0% and 2.2% growth respectively instead of the previously seen 0.7% and 1.9%.

Article Source: EU Commission cuts euro zone growth forecast as Germany in recession – RTE

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Disconnect between employers and older workers, survey finds

Recruitment firm Hays Ireland has said that new research it has conducted has revealed a disconnect between employers and older workers.

The company said its survey of 1,600 employers and employees shows a notable communication gap between the retirement plans of older workers and the strategies of employers to retain their knowledge and skills.

According to the research, 22% of workers have indicated they plan to retire within the next five years but just 38% of employers have discussed retirement plans with such workers.

Flexible working hours, health insurance and retirement planning rank as the top three considerations for employees over the age of 50 when considering a new role.

The survey shows that less than half of employers offer retirement planning options to staff over 50 and that part-time work is currently provided to employees aged 50 and above by 15% of employers.

72% of employers say they are actively hiring staff over the age of 50.

Just over half of workers over 50 believe there has been an occasion where their chance of a job offer has been impacted because of their age.

While 70% of employers said employees are treated equally in their organisation, regardless of age.

“Some older professionals, who have been the backbone of our workforce for decades, can find themselves at a crossroads due to the rapid pace of technological advancement,” said Maureen Lynch, Managing Director of Hays Ireland.

“The fear of being left behind by these changes can understandably lead to thoughts of retirement, which could potentially trigger a significant loss of expertise and experience from our industries.”

“Its important employers take measures to harness the potential of their experienced workforce,” Ms Lynch said.

“By tailoring training programmes to bridge any gaps, employers can help to ensure their older employees remain valuable contributors,” she added.

Article Source: Disconnect between employers and older workers, survey finds –  Brian O’Donovan – RTE

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64% of consumers buy sustainable goods, cost an issue

Two thirds of Irish consumers buy sustainable products sometimes or often, a new survey has found.

The research by Deloitte found the level of sustainable purchasing was higher among those who considered themselves middle-income earners, at 65%.

While among those who categorised themselves as lower income earners, 59% said they purchase sustainable products sometimes or often.

But the Global Sustainability Survey, which includes responses from 1,000 consumers in Ireland, found the cost of sustainable goods has an impact on people’s willingness to buy them.

41% of those surveyed said they had not bought sustainable goods in the last four weeks due to the high cost.

That level rises to 53% of those on lower incomes, compared to 37% of those who are higher incomes earners.

“We can see from the research that cost continues to be a barrier for consumers, and the ability to produce sustainable products in an affordable manner is a key challenge for businesses, given the research, development and production changes required,” said Glenn Gillard, Head of Sustainability at Deloitte.

“Support at policy level through green incentives will also be crucial to enable that transition. With more regulation in this area expected, companies who adopt these practices early and before they are compelled to, can be leaders in the market.”

Nearly half of consumers said they have changed their personal behaviour to take positive action for the climate.

But just 16% claimed that they always, or whenever possible, use lower emission transportation and avoid optional or leisure flights.

“Sustainable travel is a crucial element for Ireland to meet its goals under the Climate Action Plan by 2030, but we can see from this research that we still have a long way to go,” said Glenn Gillard.

“There are encouraging signs that individuals are thinking about alternatives, but the majority of people still continue to make decisions based on other factors, such as cost.”

Nearly a third of those who took part in the survey said they do think their employer is doing enough to address climate change.

One in four of lower self-assessed income earners agreed they were, while this rose to 30% with middle income earners and 49% of higher income earners.

Just over a third of higher-assessed income earners said they had thought about switching to jobs to work for a more sustainable company or a company with less significant environmental impact.

That compared to 12% of self-assessed low and middle-income earners.

Article Source: 64% of consumers buy sustainable goods, cost an issue – Will Goodbody – RTE

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Oil prices ease but supply cuts keep Brent above $90 a barrel

Oil prices eased today as a stronger US dollar and economic concerns in China weighed on the outlook for fuel demand, but extended supply cuts by Saudi Arabia and Russia helped keep Brent above $90 a barrel.

Brent crude fell 15 cents, or 0.2%, to $90.50 a barrel in early trade, while US West Texas Intermediate crude was at $87.08 a barrel, down 43 cents, or 0.5%.

“Concerns about Chinese economic growth weighed on sentiment across commodities,” ANZ analysts said in a note.

“The move was exacerbated by a stronger US dollar which kept investor appetite low,” they added. The dollar has risen for eight weeks in a row.

Oil prices have gained in the past two consecutive weeks with Brent settling at its highest since November on Friday, after Saudi Arabia and Russia announced last week they will extend voluntary supply cuts of a combined 1.3 million barrels per day until the end of the year.

“Oil prices have largely converged with our fair value estimate, but with Saudi Arabia more aggressive than expected with its unilateral cut and continuing strength in demand, we caution against fading the recent run-up,” Barclays analyst Amarpreet Singh said in a note.

The International Energy Agency and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are due to release their monthly reports this week, and any sign of strong demand will likely push oil prices higher.

Mukesh Sahdev, head of downstream and oil trading at Rystad Energy, said the impact of the Saudi-led cuts would be clearer by year-end, when refineries finish maintenance and increase production.

“Refinery maintenance will lower crude demand by 2-2.5 million bpd in September and October, but it will rebound in November and December, partially offsetting the price effects of the cuts,” Sahdev added, estimating that refinery outages will peak at 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in October.

In the US, producers added an oil rig last week for the first time since June, Baker Hughes said in its weekly report, but the total count was still down 127, or 17%, below this time last year.

WTI is likely in the process of marking out a new higher range at above $83 and below resistance at $93.50 in the weeks ahead, with concerns around demand in China and Europe capping further upside, IG analyst Tony Sycamore said in a note.

Article Source: Oil prices ease but supply cuts keep Brent above $90 a barrel – RTE

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