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The Dropping Unemployment Rate

There was good news this week as the latest monthly employment figures were released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). These numbers showed that the unemployment level in Ireland has fallen to 6%. The number of individuals classified as unemployed dropped by 1800 in October bringing us the lowest figure in 9 years and the first time that unemployment has hit a level equivalent to those before the financial crisis.

In further positive news, these new figures place Ireland in an incredibly favourable position in terms of unemployment in the Eurozone itself. The Eurozone average unemployment level is 8.9%, placing Ireland almost 3% under this average. As stated in the budget announcement, experts expect that this level will continue to fall in the coming months at a steady rate following current trends. It is believed that Ireland could reach what is known as full employment (an unemployment level of 5.5% or less) in 2018.

The employment figures also showed a drop in the youth unemployment level from 14.7 to 14%. Despite these positive moves however, there is always room for concern and businesses will have new concerns to be addressed in the wake of this record low in unemployment.

Mariano Mamertino, economist with Indeed, has stated that there are still major concerns and that the Irish public should not become complacent, likewise jobseekers should not assume that there are jobs aplenty available for them.

“Although the rate of youth unemployment was down to 14 per cent in October, from 16.7 per cent a year ago, young people in Ireland are still almost three times more likely than older people to be unemployed today, with 27,000 people under the age of 25 who want a job not yet finding a role […] nearly half of those who are unemployed are long-term unemployed, and therefore have been looking for a role for at least 12 months. It is unlikely that the sectors facing the most significant skills shortages such as technology, finance and biopharmaceuticals will be hiring from these two cohorts, and are more likely to look overseas for hires who have experience and are ready to hit the ground running.”

As such, although these are of course shifts in the right direction for the Irish economy, it is wise for employers and employees alike to never take figures such as these for granted. If recent years have taught us anything it’s that in the current economic climate, things can shift dramatically in a short period of time.

Should you require any help or guidance on any business or financial matter, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always delighted to welcome clients both old and new.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

High Risk, High Reward

We have spoken at length in the past about the importance of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) are to the Irish economy. SMEs alone currently comprise over half of all Irish businesses, and have come to form the backbone of the ongoing economic recovery. As such, it has become increasingly important to protect and encourage these kinds of businesses.

In recent months we have seen the beginnings of a welcome change in the availability and range of funding and assistance options for SMEs which has shown a real shift in focus towards taking note of the importance of our Small and Medium Enterprises as well as our entrepreneurs.

Something which is rarely focused on is support for the financial backers of these seemingly higher risk enterprises and companies. The Government have created a scheme to act as an incentive for such financial backers called the Enterprise Investment Scheme. This scheme allows qualifying companies access to investment from shareholders, and in turn offers these shareholders tax breaks as incentive.

The purpose of the scheme is to assist some small and higher risk SMEs to raise capital where this may ordinarily be difficult or almost impossible. This will help to reduce the amount of SMEs forced to wind down due to a lack of financial investment.

It is hoped that this scheme will encourage investors to back what may be perceived as higher risk companies, in order to act as a buffer for these companies and increase their chance of continued survival. As these would be a higher risk investment, there are of course a number of enterprises which do not qualify, these are as follows:

Land shares, goods (except normal retail etc.), financial, legal and accountancy, property development, hotels and nursing homes, agriculture and power, etc.

There is also a time limit of two years applied during which the invested capital must be utilised and the investor must never have been previously connected with the business prior to investment.

Companies wishing to avail of this scheme must be EII certified and must directly seek certification from the Revenue Commissioners.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Dublin in the Blue Corner

The now infamous term ‘Brexit’ (meaning Britain’s exit from the European Union for anyone that may have been actively avoiding the news in recent months) is one that has long been met with apprehension and uncertainty from our shores. As a relatively small country we find ourselves somewhat reliant on our larger neighbour for certain amounts of trade and, as such we have been unsure of what this move would mean for Ireland’s continuing recovery as well as our own trade options.

There seems to be good news on the horizon this week however, as it was announced that according to research from Ernst & Young’s London office, Dublin is now the most preferred Brexit location for financial services companies. A move in this direction would be an incredibly positive one for Ireland, with Dublin already being somewhat of tech hub with companies like social media giant Facebook choosing to have their European head office here. This also places Dublin ahead of Europe’s current financial centre, Frankfurt which is a major boost to how Dublin is perceived in the financial sector.

Whilst Dublin may only be slightly ahead of Frankfurt, this is a significant indicator of positive movement following Brexit as the survey included 222 banks and other institutions, showing that Dublin is being considered as a real and viable option for European trading following Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union. It is reported that 19 companies mentioned Dublin as a potential destination they would consider moving operations to following Brexit.

In recent months, Ireland has already won out over our competitor Frankfurt in securing banking giants such as Barclays to our shores. There is of course no commitment attached to these findings, but it is encouraging to know that Ireland is one of the first options to come to mind for financial services companies in these uncertain times.

It is both a time of excitement and uncertainty for Ireland as Brexit approaches and should these companies put their contingency plan into action we may well see some positive changes for our country come as a result of this upheaval.

Should you require any help, guidance or assistance on any business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA, or pay a visit to our new office where we are now all settled in and ready to be of assistance.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Unemployment Rates: How Low Can We Go?

Over the past couple of years the signs of Ireland’s recovery following the economic crisis have been increasingly positive. One important cornerstone of recovery is of course employment. Previously, we saw a situation in which there was an increasing rate of unemployment and an increase in qualified people seeking employment on other shores or taking on unpaid work they were overqualified for on our own shores in a desperate attempt to seek stable employment. This is a situation that both employers and workers would be loath to recreate.

In recent months, the unemployment rate in Ireland has been dropping at a steady rate which shows positive movement for Ireland’s continuing recovery, even in the wake of the Brexit panic. In June, the unemployment rate continued its downward trend going from May’s figure of 6.4% to 6.3%, which is a significant positive movement over the course of one month. Over the twelve months between June 2016 and June 2017 however, this figure has dropped from 8.3% to 6.3% according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) report.

In terms of actual figures, the unemployment rate has dropped by 42,100 people over the course of one year which is of course a move in the right direction for all. EMEA economist for Indeed, Mariano Mamertino has been quoted as saying that the Irish unemployment rate is on track to fall below 6%:

“Ireland remains on a clear trajectory for unemployment to fall below 6pc in the coming months, which bodes well in terms of the likelihood of increased consumer spending and retails sales as more people take home a weekly pay cheque.”

This, of course is encouraging news for all businesses particularly those in the retail sector who are expected to see an increase in business in the coming months. The unemployment rate in Ireland remains lower than some EU countries, but is moving in the right direction for recovery.

Naturally, the swift and continuing downward movement of the unemployment rate causes some minor concerns as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has stated his concern over the possibility of more jobs being available than there are workers to fill them in the future. In his opinion, the unemployment rate looks likely to fall below 5.5% which would be both an “extraordinary achievement” and a cause for concern as it would be possible Ireland would “experience capacity constraints.” It has however been stated that this is merely a potential situation and not one that is envisioned to come to pass, so we can carry on celebrating the continuing recovery of our economy

Should you require any help, guidance or information on these or any other financial and business matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Are you Talkin’ to SME?

We have spoken in the past about the dearth of financing options for Small and Medium Enterprises in Ireland following the recession. Recently, there seems to be a push towards recognising the importance of SMEs as the backbone of our economy and as such, the need for available funding to ensure their continued success.

One such form of funding of which Ireland has seen very little in recent years is ‘Peer to Peer’ (P2P) lending. The term might bring flashbacks of desperately attempting to download your favourite songs on a dial-up connection but rest assured this is a far more functional process. Peer to Peer lending is now one of the most popular methods of funding a business or idea (think Kickstarter, IndieGoGo etc. these options are also known as ‘crowdfunding’). The process allows ordinary individuals with cash to invest be ‘matched’ with a business seeking finance. The entire process is done online which reduces overhead costs and generally makes for a smoother and cheaper lending process for both parties.

One such Irish Peer-to-Peer lender, Linked Finance has recently received full authorisation by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to allow the company to enter into the UK Market. Linked Finance’s CEO Niall Dorrian was quoted as saying the following about the authorisation:

“I am very pleased that we have secured full FCA approval. It puts us ahead of the curve in terms of preparing for any regulation of the sector in Ireland. It also demonstrates to lenders and borrowers here at home that Linked Finance operates to the highest standards.”

The authorisation is well timed for Linked Finance as our own Department of Finance has initiated a public consultation process with the view of imposing some regulations on Peer-to-Peer lending in Ireland, aiming to make this a safer process for all parties. The UK already has a comprehensive regulatory procedure with regard to P2P lending, and it is thought that Irish practises will begin to follow suit as P2P lending grows in popularity here. The UK also already has many options in place for funding SMEs which Ireland may eventually follow suit on given that these enterprises make up such a large chunk of our business.

Linked Finance have already facilitated more than €25m in loans to Irish SMEs and it is hoped that in the future there will be a marked increase in lending options for SMEs as they continue to be the backbone of our economy. Linked Finance in particular hope that any kind of regulation will be a help to the sector rather than a hindrance as CEO Dorrian has said:

“Any regulation of the sector in Ireland should seek to encourage, rather than inhibit, further diversification within the financial landscape.”

For now, at least, times seem to be changing positively for Irish SMEs and long may this last.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

OVERVIEW BUDGET 2017

Continuing the trend over the last number of years, much of the budget details have already been leaked. And while the economy has performed relatively well this year, the room for manoeuvre was flagged as being limited.
Overall the budget favours spending increases over tax cuts by three to one. On the tax side of things, €500 million in cuts is offset by measures increasing tax revenue worth €195 million.

Reductions in universal social charge (USC) represent the main benefit for most people, with the key 5.5 per cent rate cut to 5% per cent.

What are the key points?

  • Tax rates & income bands remain unchanged
  • Tax credit for self-employed increased by €400 to €950
  • 0.5% cut in each of the 3 lowest USC bands
  • DIRT will reduce by 2% each year over the next 4 years (from 41% to 33%)
  • New Help to Buy incentive for first time buyers
  • Rented residential property interest relief increased from 75% to 80%
  • Mortgage interest relief extended to 2020
  • €1.2bn in funding for housing, with a goal to deliver 47,000 new social housing units by 2021
  • €5 per week increase in the state pension from March 2017
  • Capital Gains Tax further reduced to 10% for the sale of a business up to €1 million
  • €290 million earmarked to restore civil service pay cuts
  • Rent a room tax exemption increased by €2,000 to €14,000
  • 800 new Gardai to be recruited in 2017, and 2,400 new teaching posts announced
  • Inheritance tax reduced, especially from parents to children, where the threshold increases to €310,000
  • Tourism & Hospitality VAT rate of 9% unchanged
  • Cigarettes up 50 cents, alcohol & fuel duties unchanged
  • A new Sugar Tax by April 2018
  • Home Renovation Incentive further extended until 31 December 2018

We hope this information will be of benefit to you and your business. As always we are available should you have any further questions.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

SOWING THE SEEDS OF INTERNATIONAL GROWTH

Success is a very strange beast which appears in different forms for all individuals whether business owners or not. For business owners in Ireland, often the first port of call is to establish some small measure of success on home turf, before seeking to grow the business elsewhere. In the years following the financial crisis we have seen a mass exodus of people leaving our country, visas in hand to find their fortunes elsewhere. It would appear that this has slowed considerably in recent times so today we are going to focus on the other side of the coin, managing to grow your Irish business internationally while remaining on home ground.

 

Recent reports have suggested that since Ireland’s financial recovery has started to pick up some form of speed, many of those who have travelled to Australia or elsewhere and found success there have returned to Ireland in order to utilise their newfound skills and level of success. The Enterprise Ireland office in Sydney is said to be working with more than 150 Irish companies, whilst a vast number of Australian companies are now expanding operations in Ireland. Similarly, Irish recruitment agency CPL created a pop-up office in Melbourne in which it interviewed Irish professionals for positions back in Ireland.

 

So what options exist for growing your Irish business internationally whether you are making your return or have stayed put?

 

The Enterprise Ireland Internationalisation Grant gives Irish businesses the opportunity to grow in international markets. This grant focuses solely on supporting the costs of undertaking new market research which is a valuable asset in growing your business in new areas and the research must focus on an area not already being covered by your business. There are a number of eligibility criteria available through the Enterprise Ireland website including that the business must be based in the Republic of Ireland and employ more than 10 people. There is also an available option for much larger companies. The maximum grant available here is €35,000, which would certainly garner valuable information for growing your company. This grant is open to applications all year round.

 

For smaller companies and SMEs, the Enterprise Europe Network is an invaluable resource which will assist in gaining new contacts and support networks beyond the door of your own business. This is a support network for SMEs and other companies with international ambitions assisting in gaining contacts and providing much needed information about funding available. This is also an important resource when looking to grow your business internationally as it provides valuable information on EU regulations which will ensure that your business is following all appropriate protocol.

 

The Enterprise Europe Network also provide an access to EU funding programme for SMEs to assist in this process as well as giving Irish companies the opportunity to give feedback on EU legislation. This is a resource we would urge all Irish SMEs whether dreaming big or small to engage with.

 

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants, where we will be happy to assist and advise in any way possible.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

BREAKING UP IS NEVER EASY – BREXIT

It has been quite a week for British politics and an interesting one for Irish companies trading with Britain. There has been a lot of upheaval and uncertainty underlying businesses in the wake of the shocking ‘Brexit’ result which saw Britain historically vote to leave the European Union with an incredibly close vote of 52% leave to 48% stay. The instant panic saw stock markets begin a struggle which continues to attempt to right themselves during a turbulent couple of weeks, while the value of the pound itself instantly plummeted. We spoke recently about what this event could mean for Ireland, and considering the news of this is unlikely to filter out any time soon, it is a topic we will all be following with interest.

Amidst the panic, as previously discussed there will be some new opportunities for Ireland to harness off the back of this move, and it is also important to bear in mind that although there will be many far reaching consequences, commerce – like Celine Dion’s heart, will go on. Despite the UK accounting for almost half of Irish exports, there may be a silver lining for Irish markets. On the positive side, despite early turbulence, world stock markets have proven rather resilient and have recovered well this week, despite the continuing weakness of Sterling.

The entire Brexit process is sure to be a lengthy one, particularly in the aftermath of David Cameron’s departure, and it will remain to be seen what this may mean for other members of the European Union. On our own end, growth and activity in Ireland’s services sector slowed by 0.5% in June according to Investec’s Purchasing Manager Index, showing a new push towards caution ahead of the Brexit vote.

Whilst the future and coming negotiations between Britain and the EU will be crucial to Irish interests, we will be reliant on the EU side to maintain the best interests of Ireland. This puts us in an interesting position as much of our business is reliant on the UK. It is hoped that in particular, the Common Travel Area agreement that is in place between the UK and Ireland remains in place as new borders would cause chaos for Irish people working in the UK, as well as making our trade routes increasingly difficult.

It will certainly be a long road of uncertainty ahead for Irish and British businesses, but there is still hope on the horizon and whilst business may not resume as normal for all, new pathways will be forged in the wake of Brexit.

As always if you require any guidance, advice or assistance with your own business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants, let us be the one constant for your business in this time of change.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

THE RISE AND RISE OF INVOICE FRAUD

In our current digital age, online safety and security has become a real concern for both business owners and workers of all walks of life as attacks on information and identity theft continue to be a prevalent issue. Recently, online fraud has become more of an issue for business internet users as it was revealed that a number of fraud complaints utilising invoice redirect schemes have been registered with Gardaí. 18 of these complaints have been registered within the last year. These schemes have come to light due to a Chinese-based attack on Ryanair’s finances which almost lead to a loss in excess of €4million. It was reported that in one of the most recent cases, Gardaí managed to stop the fraudulent transfer of more than €2 million into a UK bank account. With potential losses like this, it is vital to maintain vigilance online.

 

These invoice redirect schemes direct requests to business owners and traders, these requests appear to be genuine and to be from trusted suppliers or providers to the business or trader. The request suggests that the beneficiary’s bank details have been changed, duping the business owner into changing their known banking details and resulting in any funds due to be paid to suppliers, being transferred to this fraudulent account. Once the invoices or requests are received, business owners or administrators generally forward the information to their accounts or finance department for payment, meaning that the transfer to fraudulent accounts is almost seamless in this instance. These fraudulent requests and invoices may be almost indistinguishable from the norm as the criminals behind the schemes have been known to match their auditor’s details to information which is easily accessible through the CRO.

 

Following these complaints and issues, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation have issued an alert specifically targeting this form of fraud and identifying the inherent issues with these invoice redirect fraud schemes, which carry such weighty financial damage potential for businesses across the country.

“A number of Irish organisations and businesses have been targeted in the recent past. This advice is targeted at all entities that are involved in paying invoices or requested to transfer funds to any new bank account, be it within Ireland or elsewhere.”

 

It is advisable when any notice to change payment details is received, to review current payment change protocols in place with the supplier, and also to contact the supplier directly to verify the source of the email. If you have any concerns at all, it is vital to check with the supplier before any changes to bank details are made.

 

Should you have any other financial or business concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants, where we will be happy to help in any way possible.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

BANKRUPT NO MORE

Recently, we discussed some proposed changes to bankruptcy terms in Ireland. We can now report that these legislative changes have been largely accepted by the government. These changes have been hailed as being one of the most positive changes to Irish bankruptcy law for the many people currently suffering from debt issues.

 

It has been reported recently that although these changes will be widely accepted, some minor changes may need to be made. As we previously stated, the main proposed change would be that the discharge term for bankruptcy is to be reduced from three years to one year. This would be a major change in Irish bankruptcy procedures and would allow for those individuals who have been made bankrupt to return to business far sooner than was previously possible.

 

An amendment has been suggested on the proposed document. It was originally stated that those who have been bankrupt for more than one year prior to legislation being passed would see their bankruptcy discharged after 3 months. It is suggested that the government may now amend this to six months. This will still allow for many people to have their bankruptcy period greatly shortened, and it is hoped we will then see many entrepreneurs surge back into the market.

 

Another major change to Irish bankruptcy proceedings is in relation to the seizure of family homes following bankruptcy. TD Willie Penrose who is the main driving force behind these changes has proposed in his bill that these properties must be sold within three years, or be returned.

 

There have been some whisperings of these changes making bankruptcy appear a more attractive option. IMHO Chief Executive David Hall has rubbished these claims stating that:

“Going bankrupt is a daunting process for anyone – subjecting yourself to having the knives and forks in your house counted by a third party to establish what asset value you have in your house.”

 

Indeed, the very idea of the word bankruptcy is an incredibly daunting notion for anyone to face. It is hoped, however that these new changes, whilst bringing Irish law into line with Northern Ireland and the UK, will also make the process somewhat less devastating. This perhaps will then assist in Irish recovery as we see some of our entrepreneurs and hard-working business owners who have fallen on hard times make a swifter return to business.

 

Once again, we hope that this clears up any confusion about the ongoing changes within bankruptcy law and procedures in Ireland. If you yourself are experiencing difficulty and would like to know more about the process, please don’t hesitate to give us a call here at DCA Accountants.