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News : Irish Last Updated: May 7, 2013 - 11:26 AM

Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - May 07, 2013
By Finfacts Team
May 7, 2013 - 7:15 AM

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The Irish Independent reports that pupils in fee-charging schools and those who receive an all-Irish education are most likely to go straight to college from school.

At the other extreme, research reveals that pupils attending schools in disadvantaged areas are most likely to drop out and if they do the Leaving Cert are least likely to go straight to a third-level institution.


A key finding – that girls are more likely than boys to leave school early – contradicts the long-held view that this was a predominantly male problem.

The reports confirm much of what is already known about how the system favours some students more than others – but the level of dropout by girls will trigger fresh worries about whether the education system is adequately meeting their needs.

Attempts to tackle early school leaving has traditionally focused on boys.

For the first time, the Department of Education has now tracked the progress of individual school-leavers from a single year, including both those who had done the Leaving Cert and those who dropped out.

The research was carried out on pupils who attended school in the 2009/2010 year, but were not enrolled the following year.

The department used PPS numbers to track the pupils and, in a ground-breaking exercise, cross-checked data in a range of government departments and agencies to establish where the school-leavers were a year later.

One study, 'School Completers – What's Next' looked at what happened to the 54,824 Leaving Cert candidates in 2009/2010.

The other study, 'Early School-Leavers – What's Next' looked at the destination of the 7,713 pupils (out of a total second-level enrolment that year of 257,060) who left school in 2009/2010 at any point before sixth year

Among the key findings were that 50pc of those who completed their Leaving Cert went straight into higher education. An additional 28pc went on to further education, such as a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course; training, such as a FAS course; or repeated the Leaving Cert.

A total of 10pc of the class of 2009/2010 took up employment; 7pc were claiming social welfare; and 5pc were 'other', such as emigration.

A closer analysis of the average 50pc who went straight to college shows a wide variation in progression rates, depending on school sector:

• Fee-charging schools (66pc).

• All-Irish schools (57pc).

• Non-fee-charging secondary schools, generally those run or previously run by the religious (47pc).

• Comprehensive schools (42pc).

• Community schools (38pc).

• Vocational sector schools (34pc).

• Schools in designated disadvantaged areas (24pc).

Overall, early school leaving is much less of a problem than it was, with 11,498 dropping out of school in 2001/2002.

The biggest dropout rate, 3.9pc, was in schools in designated disadvantaged areas, known as DEIS – double the rate of a non-DEIS school and four times that in an all-Irish school.

Although followed closely by 3.8pc in fee-paying schools, many of these pupils may have gone on to a grind school.

The research shows that more females consistently exit the second-level system earlier than males.

This is true both in absolute numbers and in the percentage of the entire male and female school populations.

About 55pc of early school-leavers went on to further education – such as a PLC course, or FAS training – or continued their second-level education in a private institution such as a grind school, as 22pc of them did. Another 14pc were enrolled in further education or training outside the State, while about 6pc were working and 7pc were claiming social welfare.


The remaining 17pc fell into the 'other' category, which includes emigration.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said the reports "would fill data gaps and enhance the information used by the department to plan for the future education needs of our school-leavers".

Data was matched with agencies such as the Revenue Commissioners, the Higher Education Authority's Student Record System, FAS, the Department of Social Protection and the Further Education and Training Awards Council.

The Irish Independent also reports that some bank customers are paying four times more in current account fees than they would if they had shopped around, a survey by the newspaper reveals.

The annual costs for a typical bank customer now range from €28 to €136 a year as free banking becomes a thing of the past.

Ulster Bank offers both the cheapest and the dearest current account deals, depending on the option you choose.

But it is soon set to hike the charges on its standard account by €48 a year with the introduction of a €4 monthly account charge from July.

And Ulster Bank's uFirst Current Account came out as the dearest in our survey, costing customers €136 a year.

Of the country's big two banks, AIB is the most expensive at €106 a year for the typical customer, but Bank of Ireland isn't far behind at between €95 and €102.

And while Permanent TSB charges add up to €93 a year, you could cut this to €45 a year if you lodge at least €1,500 per month.

Bank of Ireland offers no quarterly or transaction fees if you keep a balance of €3,000, while AIB charges no transaction fees where a balance of €2,500 is maintained.

EBS offers five free transactions if you keep a minimum balance of €500.

But while it clearly pays to shop around for a cheaper deal on your current account, the latest figures show that hardly anyone does.

While Irish consumers are keen to get the best deal on their gas and electricity bills and will hop between suppliers to do so, the number switching bank accounts remains at a negligible 2pc, the latest survey by the National Consumer Agency (NCA) shows.

New NCA chief executive Karen O'Leary said it had received over 180 complaints about bank charges in the last year, a period when most banks had reintroduced fees or put stringent qualifying criteria in place.

It also had queries from customers who have found it difficult to switch banks even though there's a statutory code, which puts the onus on the banks to manage the process smoothly within 10 days.


Problems included customers being hit with overdraft fees or surcharges or getting a bad credit rating because of delays in the switchover process.

The NCA also said it had found major gaps in the information provided by banks on how to switch accounts, and said Ireland should look at allowing people keep the same bank account number when they switch banks to prevent disruption to direct debits.

However, the Central Bank, which had been reviewing new ways to encourage people to switch bank accounts, said it would now await new proposals being drawn up by the European Commission on the issue.

Dail Finance Committee chairman Ciaran Lynch called for restaurant-style menus outside banks to make customers aware of the costs of using an ATM or withdrawing money in the branch.

"We are calling on banks to advertise their charge costs at the front door in much the same way that pubs and restaurants are obliged to display costs of drink and food outside their premises," he said.

Our survey is based on a Central Bank profile of a typical bank customer making a standard number of transactions, and with an authorised overdraft and a few out of order charges each year.

The Irish Times reports that Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton sought to introduce generous tax breaks for executives in multinational companies in the run-up to Budget 2013, documents show.

The budget, published last December, contained controversial measures that allow executives on high salaries to move to Ireland and pay lower income tax rates, as well as benefit from relief on expenses such as trips home and private school fees.

The move prompted serious concern from the Revenue Commissioners, which felt it could be seen as unfair by the wider taxpaying population.

New documents show Mr Bruton sought to make the provisions more generous again in Budget 2013.

He requested Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to reduce the income tax rate to 23 per cent for eligible executives earning up to €500,000 per year.

This works out at an effective tax rate of 30 per cent, when the universal social charge is included. It would have cost the exchequer about €5 million to implement.

In a letter dated November 20th, 2012, Mr Bruton said the existing tax break was a very welcome addition to Ireland’s tax offering and constituted a valuable job-creation tool.

The key benefit, he said, was that senior executives within multinationals could be attracted to locate in Ireland.

‘Clear wins for Ireland'

“The multinational will then locate the jobs supporting the roles of senior executives and product/services leaders within Ireland.

“These follow-on jobs are clear wins for Ireland, as they represent additional internationally mobile jobs which would not otherwise have been located in Ireland,” he wrote.

Mr Bruton added that these supporting roles were typically filled by Irish workers and that additional taxes would mitigate the cost of the move.

The request, however, was not acted upon by Mr Noonan in last December’s budget.

Other documents released under the Freedom of Information Act indicate the sensitivity within Government circles over the perception that Irish tax laws are allowing multinationals pay tax at well below the official 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate.

Briefing material acknowledges that some large companies are able to pay little if any tax due to so-called “double Irish” tax structures.

But officials insist the Government has no role in facilitating this.

“It is not part of the Irish tax offering,” one Department of Finance briefing note reads, “ and it relies on arbitrage between the different tax rules used in different countries.”

The Irish Times also reports that European Central Bank president Mario Draghi departed from a prepared speech yesterday to reiterate the central bank’s readiness to cut interest rates again if the euro zone economy deteriorates further.

The euro hit session lows against the dollar and the yen after Mr Draghi said in Rome the ECB would monitor incoming data and would be ready to cut rates further, including the deposit rate currently at zero.

“We stand ready to act again,” Mr Draghi said.

The ECB cut its main interest rate to 0.5 per cent last week after euro zone inflation fell sharply in April and unemployment hit a record high in March. It signalled then that it was ready to do more should the euro zone economy deteriorate further. ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure said as much on Saturday.

Another cut could drive the deposit rate below its current level of zero. The ECB would then charge banks for holding their funds overnight, a step which could have major implications on funding markets.

“There are many complications and consequences to take into account that need to be studied carefully, and the council has decided to study them, to analyse these consequences in order to be able to act if necessary,” Mr Draghi said, referring to negative deposit rates.

Highlighting the opposition Mr Draghi may face from some ECB policymakers to a further reduction, board member Yves Mersch, a hawk close to Germany’s Bundesbank, said there could be limits to the effectiveness of instruments such as interest rate cuts.

Data released yesterday pointed to darkening growth prospects. The first reading of the euro zone’s first quarter economic performance is due tomorrow, and economists polled by Reuters estimate output fell 0.2 per cent.

Yesterday European purchasing managers’ indexes (PMIs) suggested the euro zone’s downturn dragged on in the current quarter, with Germany now suffering a contraction in business activity that has long dogged France, Italy and Spain.

The Irish Examiner reports that employees of Irish firms can expect pay rises of 1% to 2.5% this year, according to Mercer’s Salary Movement Snapshot which surveyed about 150 companies.

According to the report, which surveyed Irish companies in February, 20% of businesses in the life sciences sector can expect a pay rise this year. Other sectors set for pay hikes include consumer goods (17%), hi-tech (13%), finance/banking (10%), insurance (8%), and energy (5%), said Mercer.

Noel O’Connor, senior reward consultant with Mercer, said: “Businesses in Ireland are still keeping a tight rein on salary increases.

“While private sector employment has grown modestly in recent quarters, the economic situation remains precarious and organisations remain cautious with their fixed costs, such as salaries. Our survey suggests there are some signs of movement in specific industry groups like insurance, energy, and hi-tech.”

The survey also includes responses from a range of companies in industries such as durable services, retail, and others.

The survey participants typically include local subsidiaries of multinationals and leading indigenous multinationals, it added.

The Mercer report is part of a much broader survey of 570 companies across 76 countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The countries where wage freezes have been most common are in periphery eurozone countries, including Ireland.

However, most of the companies surveyed in this country are in the high-end multinational sector, where there is a demand for highly skilled personnel. It is these sectors that are seeing the highest level of salary increases, Mr O’Connor said.

In western Europe, the UK, Germany, Austria, Norway, and Sweden are predicting median salary budget increases of 3%.

The survey provides guidance to employers, across a range of sectors, on salary planning and salary forecasting. The data provides information from multinationals on median base pay increases across all employee groups including blue and white collar workers up to management and senior executive level, said Mercer.

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