Wednesday 5th August 2015
Irish tax take almost €900m above target for first seven months 2015
Public finances boosted by surge in corporation tax receipts
Michael Noonan’s department said corporation tax receipts were €653m above target.
Tax revenues in the first seven months of the year came in almost €900 million ahead of target as a surge in corporation tax payments delivered a fillip to the public finances.
Figures released this afternoon by the Department of Finance point to a budget deficit of €648 million between January and July, compared with a €5.18 billion deficit in the same period last year. On a like-for-like basis, excluding once-off transactions, the deficit comes in around €2.6 billion in the period.
Tax revenue reached €24.54 billion in the first seven months of 2015, €2.16 billion higher than in 2014.
The data reflects tight control over spending, with €22.92 billion net voted expenditure coming in €352 million or 1.4 per cent below profile and €65 million ahead of the same period in 2014.
The latest exchequer returns are in line with forecasts, suggesting full year tax receipts will overshoot budget day targets by some €1.4 billion.
Payments were €800 million above profile at the end of June and the new batch of figures indicate they came in €893 million above profile by end July, a gain in the month of some €93 million.
By far the biggest excess over profile was in corporation tax returns , which stood at €2.9 billion at end July and were €778 million ahead of the same period in 2014 and €653 million above the budget day target.
Total receipts under the heading in July, at €3.92 billion, were almost exactly the same as in the same month last year.
While payments in July 2015 were €6 million higher, the Department said €285 million in corporation tax receipts were delayed from June to July last year for technical reasons. “Therefore … tax receipts in July were actually up €291 million or 8% when compared to the same month last year,” the Department said.
The Government collected €9.76 billion in income tax in the first seven months of the year, €21 million above profile and up €517 million on a year-on-year basis. “For the month of July, income tax was €33 million or 2.2% below profile, which is wholly attributable to weak DIRT receipts on the back of low interest rates,” said the Department.
VAT receipts reached €7.67 billion in the period to end July, up €560 million year-on-year and above profile by €79 million. “VAT receipts for July, which are reflective of the May / June trading period, were €43 million (2.6%) above profile,” the Department said.
Jobs recovery stalls as youth unemployment edges up
Data shows jobless rate unchanged at 9.7% but lowest since 2009
The jobs recovery stalled in July, as the rate of unemployment remained unchanged at 9.7%, while youth unemployment rose slightly during the month, up to 20.2%.
According to figures from the Central Statistics Officer leased on Wednesday, the unemployment rate was unchanged in July, with some 208,900 people without a job, up by 300 on June, but down by 32,400 on July 2014.
At 9.7%, this is the lowest rate since January 2009 but is the third consecutive month of no change in the unemployment rate.
David McNamara, economist with Davy Stockbrokers, said that the figures were “slightly disappointing” given the positive signals on hiring by firms.
“Nonetheless, consumer confidence did fall in July, perhaps impacted by concerns about the Greek crisis, and this could have influenced hiring decisions by firms,” he said, adding that he expects unemployment to continue on a downward trajectory in the coming months.
The unemployment rate for men stood at 10.8% in July, unchanged from June 2015 but down from 12.8% in July 2014. The rate for women was also unchanged in July, at 8.4 %, down from 9.4% a year prior. Some 127,700 men were unemployed in July, and 81,200 women.
Youth unemployment rose to 20.2% in July 2015, up from 19.9% in June 2015, but down from 23.6% in July 2014. Women drove the increase, with 18.3% of females aged between 15-24 unemployed, up from 17.6% in June 2015.
The gain in July erodes the improvement noted since April 2015, when youth unemployment stood at 20.7%.
Responding to the figures the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) expressed concern.
“Youth unemployment is still high, at twice the rate it was before 2008. Moreover, the latest figures at the end of June show that almost 19,000 young people were on the live register for one year or more,” NYCI deputy director James Doorley said, as he called for the Government to restore the adult rate of €188 per week for all young people participating in education, training and work experience programmes.
Patients with epilepsy among first to be trial health unique identifiers
Standards for managing unique numbers to track people in health system published
A large GP practice, a hospice and patients with epilepsy will be among the first to trial the new individual health identifiers.
Patients with epilepsy will be among the first to trial individual health identifiers, a unique number which will eventually be given to every person in the State to track them through the health and social care system for life.
A new unit will be established within the Health Service Executive to manage the rollout of the individual health identifier (IHI) numbers and the national register containing them.
The standards for managing the identifiers were published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) on Wednesday following a public consultation.
Hiqa said the identifiers, which are provided for under primary legislation, would improve patient safety. Health services providers will use a patient’s IHI when communicating with other health service providers about their care.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the identifiers would become a major step forward in modernising the health service.
“It will allow us to follow patients and staff as they move through the health service in a way we currently can’t. This will improve patient safety, reduce duplication and errors, and give us a huge amount of new data that we can use to make services more efficient and improve planning.”
Hiqa’s acting director of health informationRachel Flynn said such identifiers were the cornerstone of e-health systems and were also key for implementing electronic health records and for electronic prescribing of medicines.
She said on Wednesday it would take “a number of years” to roll out the system fully following the initial trial period this year.
The standards were approved by the board of Hiqa last week and were also issued to the chief information officer of the HSE, Richard Corbridge.
The health identifiers operator will be a business unit of the HSE and it will be responsible for safely storing all personal data required for use of the identifiers.
Hiqa will monitor the operator’s compliance with standards. It is also conducting a privacy impact assessment “to ensure privacy risks are addressed”.
Mr Corbridge said the HSE had built the infrastructure required to deliver identifiers nationally.
This could become “live” once the final elements of the legislation were formalised and the privacy impact assessment was published.
“The HSE will work across three clinical areas in 2015 to trial the use of the individual health identifier in clinical information systems; these will be the epilepsy electronic patient record, one multi-GP general practice and the electronic medical record within a hospice,” Mr Corbridge said.
While the identifier will not contain any clinical information, an individual’s personal details such as date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, signature, photograph and PPS number may all be included in the health record.
Health insurers, coroners and the Central Statistics Officeare among the organisations that will have some access to health identifiers for the purposes of health promotion, health service management or research. They will not, however, have direct access to the national register of such health identifiers.
Organisations that will have access to the register itself include the Child and Family Agency, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, the Mental Health Commission, the National Cancer Registry Board, the Irish Medicines Board and the State Claims Agency.
Penalties of up to €100,000 will apply if a person is convicted on indictment of using health identifiers improperly.
Hiqa said the health identifier record was considered personal data within the meaning of the Data Protection Acts, and must be treated appropriately by those providing health services.
‘Vampire spider’ may hold key to beating malaria
Researchers believe that an African spider may become a major weapon in the fight against malaria.
The spider (Evarcha culicivora), a species of jumping spider found in east Africa, preys on the female Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit malaria parasites.
The arachnids, which are also known as vampire spiders, feed on human blood to produce pheromones for mating.
But despite their rather fearsome nickname, they pose no threat to people as their fangs are too weak to pierce human skin. Instead, they get the blood by preying on mosquitoes that have recently fed on humans.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that malaria causes over half a million deaths annually, mostly among African children.
In 2013 alone, there were 198 million malaria cases in sub-Saharan Africa.
But between 2000 and 2013, death rates have in the continent fallen by 54% as a result of education initiatives, improvements in treatment and the use of nets.
Last month GlaxoSmithKline developed the world’s first malaria vaccine, which is predicted to produce at least a 30% reduction in malaria cases.
It is hoped that the use of natural mosquito predators like the vampire spider can help lower infection rates further.
Scientists discover how some of the world’s first animals reproduced
Rangeomorphs, which lived about 565 million years ago, were pretty strange. They’re often considered to be some of the first animals to evolve on Earth, but they share little in common with modern critters – they look more like plants. But according to a new study, their reproductive techniques were astonishingly complex – and familiar, too.
The research, published on Monday in Nature Communications, used statistical analysis to determine what kind of reproductive strategy was used by the genus Fractofusus, a type of rangeomorph.
Based on the population distributions found in fossils, the researchers report, these creatures used a two-pronged reproductive approach. They may even have been the first group to develop such a nuanced plan for populating the world.
“Rangeomorphs don’t look like anything else in the fossil record, which is why they’re such a mystery,” lead study author Emily Mitchell, a postdoctoral researcher in Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, said in a statement. “But we’ve developed a whole new way of looking at them, which has helped us understand them a lot better – most interestingly, how they reproduced.”
Because these creatures – which had beautiful fractal branches like intricate little ferns – were immobile, well-preserved fossils can show entire ecosystems of them as they lived and died. That means that scientists can analyse the way they’re clustered to determine how their populations grew.
According to that analysis, Fractofusus would send out “grandparents” – little bits of itself ejected out into the water, kind of like seeds or spores – to colonise new areas. Once settled in a new spot, those “grandparents” would produce “parents” and “children” using stolons, or runners – cloned organisms connected to each other, much like strawberries grow today. It’s a rapid technique for asexual reproduction, especially compared to the “grandparent” technique. But those waterborne bits, while inefficient, could be used to propagate new areas, perhaps even sexually.
Combined, these two techniques make it easy to see how rangeomorphs ruled the sea. At least until the Cambrian period, when newly evolved, mobile creatures turned them into sitting ducks.