News Archives - Page 6 of 574 - Pat Carroll PCCO - Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisors

Wholesale electricity prices 40% lower in March on last year

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that wholesale electricity were 40.3% lower in March of this year compared to the same time last year.

The CSO said that wholesale electricity prices in March 2024 were also 76.6% lower than in August 2022 when prices were at their highest since the CSO began looking at the figures in 2015.

However, wholesale electricity prices rose by 2.4% in March compared to February.

Commenting on today’s figures, Daragh Cassidy, head of Communications at Bonkers.ie, said that wholesale prices are now a fraction of what they were at the height of the energy crisis in the autumn of 2022.

But he said that despite the recent large falls, wholesale prices are still around double pre energy crisis levels.

“Nevertheless, given where prices currently are, it’s highly likely we’ll see another round of price cuts in the second half of the year of between 10-20%. This comes on the back of two rounds of price cuts introduced since last September that have seen energy bills fall by around 20-25% already,” Mr Cassidy said.

He also advised that anyone who is not in contract with their energy supplier should seriously consider switching to another supplier.

Dublin has fifth highest electricity prices across 33 European cities

Consumers in Dublin have had the fifth highest electricity prices on average of 33 capital cities across Europe since September 2021, a new analysis has found.

Only Great Britain, Denmark, Germany and Italy have had higher prices over the three-year period.

The Electricity Association of Ireland’s (EAI) research, which uses monthly data contained in the Household Energy Price Index (HEPI) published by the Austrian and Hungarian regulators, also shows European counterparts raised their prices earlier and higher than Irish suppliers.

This, the EAI said, shielded Irish customers from price volatility by smoothing out rapid increases in price over a longer time period.

The conclusions are based on end-user data, but do not factor in electricity credits or other payments given by suppliers to customers.

Irish electricity customers are receiving €450 credit on their bills this winter, delivered in three instalments of €150.

“Factoring in the credit, and assuming its contribution to 57% of the electricity bill for the month, based on typical consumption patterns, the cost of electricity is more than halved, at €16.29c/kwh,” said EAI energy policy analyst Jason Herbert.

“This may be lower or higher, depending on electricity usage. Similarly, in winter of 2022/2023, Irish electricity customers received €600 in electricity credits, which had a significant impact on the cost felt by customers over this period,” he added.

HEPI data shows that in Dublin the average end-user price of electricity was the fourth most expensive of the 33 European cities analysed, with a price including taxes of €37.72cent/kWh.

This was cheaper than London, Prague and Berlin, although greater than the EU average of €24.25cent/kWh.

Article Source – Wholesale electricity prices 40% lower in March on last year, but Dublin still has 5th highest prices across 33 European cities – RTE

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Waiver on development levies to be extended – Harris

Taoiseach Simon Harris said today there is capacity to build 60,000 homes a year and there is a need to continue the supply of new homes.

Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne, he said that almost 33,000 home were completed last year.

“I said we would build 250,000 more houses between 2025 and 2030. And we will,” he stated. He said that target was shared by builders and the Construction Industry Federation.

Mr Harris said this will be possible with extra work force, extra apprentices, modern building methods and ongoing schemes to encourage supply.

He also said the Government has decided to extend the waiving of development levies which he said will make homes cheaper to build and cheaper to buy.

Since the introduction of the waiver, he said there has been a significant increase in the number of new homes being built.

The waiver was due to expire at the end of this month but Mr Harris said it would now be extended.

The Taoiseach also said he wants to see an increase at the point of which people enter the higher level of tax and the USC burden reduced for middle and low income workers.

“I think people want us to see better than just giving ‘a few bucks on tax”,” he added.

He pointed out that a number of incentives have been introduced to help reduce household burdens including the expansion of hot school meals, free school books and lower third level fees.

The totality of a household income is not just around tax, he said.

The Taoiseach said he is conscious that the price of fuel is rising again but said the carbon tax is helping those on fuel allowances or people retro fitting their homes.

Article Source – Waiver on development levies to be extended – Harris – RTE

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Government recorded surplus of €8.3 billion last year – CSO

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the general government balance showed a surplus of €8.3 billion or 1.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2023.

This marked a slight decrease on the record surplus of €8.6 billion in 2022.

The CSO said that total government revenue increased to €123.7 billion in 2023, an increase of €7.8 billion on the figures for 2022 and 40% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The increase was driven by the continued growth in tax revenue, which moved €4.7 billion higher in 2023.

2023 saw increases across both direct taxes and indirect taxes, today’s figures show.

Direct taxes, which includes corporation tax, reported a year-on-year increase of €3.3 billion (5.7%) while indirect taxes also showed growth last year of €1.4 billion (4.4%).

Meanwhile, total government expenditure also rose to €115.4 billion last year, €8.1 billion more than the previous year and 33% more than pre-Covid levels.

This was due to increases across most expenditure items, including compensation of employees, intermediate consumption, social benefits and gross fixed capital formation.

The CSO noted that subsidies saw big reductions in 2023, due to the end of Covid-19 related schemes, while cost of living measures and supports for Ukrainian refugees also contributed to a growth in expenditure.

Today’s figures also show that gross general government debt fell by €4.1 billion to €220.7 billion at the end of 2023. The CSO said that this is equivalent to 43.7% of GDP and represents debts of €41,781 per person, down from €43,354 in 2022.

The Minister for Finance Michael McGrath today noted the “significant budgetary surplus” in 2023 for the second year in a row, saying the result is testament to the careful management of the public finances in recent years. He said the surplus gives the Government options that are not open to many peer countries in the developed world.

But he noted that it is important not to lose sight of the fact that at least part of the surplus is due to the strength of corporation tax receipts, some of which is likely to prove windfall in nature.

“While our headline position is strong, this can change quickly given the inherent volatility in our corporation tax receipts and the dependence we have on revenues from a small number of multinational companies,” the Minister said.

“In this context, it is imperative that transitory revenue streams are not used to finance permanent increases in expenditure or reductions in taxation. With this in mind, Government recently published legislation providing for the establishment of the Future Ireland Fund and the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund,” he said.

“The Bill has now passed second stage in the Dáil and will proceed to committee stage shortly,” he added.

Article Source – Government recorded surplus of €8.3 billion last year – CSO – RTE

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ECB’s Lagarde says inflation more likely to ease but risks both way

Euro zone inflation is likely to decline further and the European Central Bank may cut interest rates if its long-standing price growth criteria are met, ECB President Christine Lagarde said today.

“At the same time, the Governing Council is not pre-committing to a particular rate path,” Lagarde said, repeating the bank’s most recent guidance.

“Risks to the inflation outlook are two-sided,” she said.

“Upside risks include heightened geopolitical tensions, as well as higher wage growth and more resilient profit margins than anticipated,” the ECB chief added.

Article Source – ECB’s Lagarde says inflation more likely to ease but risks both way – RTE

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‘Green’ job postings jump 93%, but jobseekers wary

So-called ‘green’ job postings in Ireland are up over 90% since 2019, new data shows.

The research from hiring platform Indeed highlights the growing demand for such roles, with sustainability now a top priority for many businesses.

But the data suggests that companies are struggling to recruit for these positions, with searches by jobseekers down 7%.

The data reveals a number of misconceptions associated with ‘green’ jobs, which may be turning people away.

40% of those surveyed believe that sustainability jobs are low paid, while 63% think these types of roles are only found in certain industries.

While 59% feel these jobs would be interesting and varied, almost 40% said they unsure about the kind of requirements needed to work in this area.

“Sustainability is now one of the key considerations at the top of everyone’s agenda,” said Jack Kennedy, Senior Economist at Indeed.

He said the need for professionals in this area will continue to grow across a variety of industries – as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations become a standard part of doing business.

“The EU has recently mandated non-financial ESG reporting for businesses with over 500 employees starting from January 2024,” he explained.

“Additionally, in 2023, the European Commission introduced the first European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS), requiring companies with specified EU activity levels to submit annual sustainability reports alongside their financial statements.

“Integration of ESG requirements in business reporting like this means ESG and sustainability roles will soon become as integral to businesses as finance or marketing,” he added.

Today’s research shows that companies are facing a number of barriers and challenges when it comes to recruiting for ‘green’ roles.

These include a lack of candidates with the right skills, and not being sure of where to find such candidates.

Others said they didn’t have enough of a budget to get the right staff, while some said they feared being perceived to be ‘greenwashing’.

Meanwhile, 38% of companies said there was a lack of understanding within their organisation of how such jobs would improve their business.

Mr Kennedy of Indeed said businesses need to focus on upskilling the current workforce to meet demand, in addition to investing in new generations.

“Ultimately, this will be necessary not only to meet the needs of the growing job market but also strengthen Ireland’s green transition efforts,” he added.

According to today’s survey findings, 65% of employees would be willing to retrain for a sustainability role.

The data from Indeed was published today to coincide with Earth Day.

Article Source – ‘Green’ job postings jump 93%, but jobseekers wary – RTE

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Diesel & petrol prices hit highest level so far this year

The latest AA Ireland fuel price survey shows that petrol and diesel prices have hit their highest level so far this year.

AA Ireland said that petrol and diesel prices have increased over the last few weeks after a fall was reported in March.

Petrol prices rose to €1.81 a litre in April, while diesel prices moved up to €1.78 a litre.

Petrol prices are up almost 13 cent since January, while diesel prices have risen by nine cent.

The AA said that fuel prices rose after the first re-instatement of excise duty which came into effect on April 1.

Excise is a duty that is added to the sale of mineral oils, cigarettes and alcohol. It is a fixed amount which is charged per litre and does not change as the price fluctuates. Retailers have no choice but to add this on at the pump as it is a legal requirement.

The Government will fully restore the excise duty rates on August 1 with a final increase of four cent on petrol and three cent on diesel, while a carbon tax is also expected in October. These will push up prices at the pump later in the year.

Meanwhile, electric vehicle fuelling costs this month remains relatively steady with a marginal increase of €1 per year. The AA said this means EV owners can expect to pay about €926 a year compared to last month’s €925 to cover the national average of 17,000km per year.

Jennifer Kilduff, Head of Marketing & PR for the AA Ireland, said that with rising costs of fuel and the cost of living in general, it is important that customers consider all options when deciding to keep or change their current vehicle.

“Whether driving an internal combustion engine or an EV, drivers should review their driving habits, reducing speed, keeping their vehicle well maintained and regularly checking tyre pressure are just some things motorists can do to save on fuel,” she said.

“An experiment carried out by The AA showed that by reducing your speed on the motorway from 120km/h to 100km/h could reduce your fuel bill by up to 29%,” she added.

Article Source – Diesel & petrol prices hit highest level so far this year – AA Ireland – RTE

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Job vacancies continuing to fall

The level of job vacancies continued to fall in the first quarter of the year according to the latest ‘Jobs Index’ from hiring platform IrishJobs.

Vacancies were down by 3% compared to the previous quarter and declined by 28% on a year-on-year basis.

The quarterly drop was the lowest fall in six successive quarters which IrishJobs said points to a steadier rate of vacancy generation over 2024.

Vacancies in the tech sector were down by 8% compared to the previous three months but the industry remains one of the largest employers in the market, accounting for 5.5% of all new jobs advertised in the quarter.

A number of sectors recorded increases in levels of vacancies including education, construction, social care and engineering.

IrishJobs said that the increase in demand for workers in construction comes as the Irish economy seeks to meet its ambitious housing targets.

Quantity surveyors were the most in-demand role in the sector over the quarter.

In education, the increase in vacancies was driven by hiring demand across third-level institutions, including UCD, Munster Technological University, and South East Technological University, for a range of roles.

The ongoing recruitment needs of the childcare sector are also reflected in the increase in education roles.

In a continued downward trend over the previous two quarters, remote/working-from-home vacancies fell by 10% in the first three months of the year.

“Against this backdrop of continuing growth, the Q1 index suggests a favourable outlook in the jobs market across a broad range of sectors over the coming months, with the lowest [quarter-on-quarter] decrease in job vacancies over the past six quarters,” said Sam Dooley, country director of Stepstone Group Ireland with responsibility for IrishJobs.

“We can expect to see a more settled jobs market over the months ahead and steady rates of vacancy generation amid falling levels of inflation and moderate levels of growth,” Mr Dooley said.

Article Source – Job vacancies continuing to fall – IrishJobs – RTE

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BPFI says SMEs face adjusting profit expectations as costs rise

Small and medium sized businesses will need to adjust their profit expectations in order to ensure the viability and continued growth of the sector, a new analysis has suggested.

Publishing its latest SME Monitor, the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) also said that more strategic Government supports for small and medium sized firms will be required.

“Our latest SME Monitor shows a healthy outlook for the Irish economy, which is expected to grow at a moderate level in the short term after significant expansion since 2019,” said Brian Hayes, Chief Executive of the BPFI.

“Employment has reached a new record high and inflation pressures are beginning to ease.”

“However, increasing labour costs, including increases to the minimum wage, the proposed pension auto-enrolment scheme and higher employer PRSI contributions, will have implications for SMEs.”

“In addition, almost 58,000 businesses availing of the Revenue Commissioners’ debt warehousing scheme will need to commence repaying their debt from 1 May 2024.”

The BPFI said amid this rising cost environment, the Government will have to move away from subsidising current spending among small firms to supporting their future development.

This could be done through measures that will increase productivity and efficiency, it suggested.

“In order to ensure the viability and continued growth of the SME sector in Ireland, there needs to be a two-fold response from both the industry and government,” Mr Hayes said.

“If businesses do not increase productivity and efficiencies or adjust profit expectations, particularly for businesses in the service sector, these additional costs are likely to create structural long-term imbalances and put upward pressure on average prices for customers at a time where price levels are on average 19% higher than prior to the pandemic.”

“In addition, while one-off Government support schemes in the form of grants or loans helped many businesses in the short term, we need to move from subsidising costs to financing development and expansion in the form of longer term solutions for SMEs in the Irish economy.”

Article Source – BPFI says SMEs face adjusting profit expectations as costs rise – RTE

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Confirmed euro zone inflation fall bolsters ECB’s June rate cut plan

Euro zone inflation slowed across the board last month, reinforcing expectations for a European Central Bank interest rate cut in June, even as rising energy costs and a weak euro cloud the outlook, final data from Eurostat showed today.

Inflation in the 20 nations sharing the euro currency slowed to 2.4% last month from 2.6% in February, in line with a preliminary estimate released earlier this month.

Meanwhile underlying price growth, which filters out volatile food and energy prices dipped to 2.9% from 3.1%, despite services inflation holding steady at an uncomfortably high 4%.

Inflation has fallen quickly over the past year, opening the way for interest rate cuts starting in June, even if the next few months are likely to bring choppy price growth data and a drawn-out return to the 2% target.

The euro zone is facing opposing inflationary forces, which could keep the headline rate fluctuating around current levels over the coming months before dipping towards 2% in the autumn.

Factors pulling inflation down include the continued slowdown in wage growth, anaemic demand given a near recessionary environment, tightening fiscal policy, cheap imports from China and relatively low gas prices after a mild winter.

But rising oil prices and a weaker euro both put upward pressure on prices while stubborn services costs raise the risk of underlying price growth getting stuck above target.

“The recent rise in commodity and energy prices will add to headline (inflation) in the coming months, with euro/dollar weakness sponsored by Fed-ECB policy divergence compounding the move,” TS Lombard said in a note.

“The euro area remains among the largest energy importers worldwide, with great sensitivity to energy prices,” the note added.

The euro has weakened around 4% against the dollar since the start of the year and the movement has been exacerbated by expectation for slower rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve given sticky inflation.

But this is mostly a move in the dollar, not the euro, economists says, and the trade weighted euro has weakened much less, muting the impact of exchange rate movements.

“For the time being, the weaker euro doesn’t look like the biggest concern for the ECB,” ING said in a note.

“It is rather the surge in oil prices and a potentially further escalation of the conflicts in the Middle East that will give at least the ECB hawks some headaches,” it added.

Policymakers have so far said that the oil price and exchange rate moves are too small to fundamentally alter the inflation outlook but market expectations for ECB rate cuts continue to retreat.

Investors now see only 75 basis points of rate cuts this year, or two moves after June, a retreat compared to two months ago when between four and five cuts were seen.

Energy has been a big drag on inflation all year as high year earlier figures get knocked from base figures but this trend could reverse in the second half of the year, if oil keeps going up.

Some argue, however, that the traditional link between oil and gas prices has been broken so an oil price rise does not automatically lift natural gas prices and does not have the same upward impact on inflation as in the past.

Article Source – Confirmed euro zone inflation fall bolsters ECB’s June rate cut plan – RTE

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Property price growth speeds up to 6.1% in February – CSO

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that residential property prices grew at the fastest annual pace in just over a year in February.

Property prices increased by 6.1% in February compared to growth of 5.4% a month earlier, the CSO said.

Year-on-year price growth had cooled from a recent peak of 15.1% in February 2022 to a near three-year low of 1.1% last August.

But the supply of new housing is still not growing fast enough to meet demand and so home prices have started to rise again.

The CSO said today property prices in Dublin grew by 5.6% in February, while prices outside Dublin were up by 6.5%.

It noted that house prices in Dublin rose by 5.9% in February while apartment prices rose by 4.5%.

The highest house price growth in Dublin was in Dublin City at 7.7%, while Fingal saw a rise of 4.5%.

Outside of Dublin, house prices increased by 6.3% and apartment prices rose by 9.1%.

Today’s CSO figures show that consumers paid a median or mid-point price of €330,000 for a residential property in the 12 months to February.

The lowest median price paid for a home was €165,000 in Leitrim, while the highest was €620,000 in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

Meanwhile, the most expensive Eircode area over the 12 months to February was A94 “Blackrock” with a median price of €715,025, while F45 “Castlerea” had the least expensive price of €135,000.

The CSO said that Dublin residential property prices are 2.6% lower than their February 2007 peak, while residential property prices in the rest of the country are 9.1% higher than their May 2007 peak.

Today’s figures also show that the purchase of a total of 3,327 homes were filed with Revenue in February, down by 0.7% when compared with the 3,351 purchases the same month last year.

The total value of transactions filed in February was €1.2 billion, the CSO added.

Revenue data shows 1,162 first-time buyer purchases in February, down 0.3% on the 1,166 recorded in February 2023. These purchases were made up of 311 new homes and 851 existing dwellings.

Commenting on today’s CSO figures, Trevor Grant, chairman of the Association of Irish Mortgage Advisers, said that continuing house price growth is keeping many prospective first-time buyers worried about whether or not they will be able to enter the property market this year.

“With housing supply remaining relatively limited and demand high, there’s little to dampen this growth,” Mr Grant said.

He said that consistent growth in regional house prices is beginning to pose challenges, making once-affordable areas less accessible.

“To secure their spot on the property ladder this year, first-time buyers must stay proactive, by ensuring they have the necessary deposit in the wings, preparing all the necessary documentation they will need for a mortgage application and exploring any State house purchase support schemes they may be eligible for,” he advised.

Article Source – Property price growth speeds up to 6.1% in February – CSO – RTE

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