Why did it take so long for landlords to agree rent cuts?



The Atlantic Homecare rescue plan approved yesterday by the High Court delivered a better than expected result.

The company had originally expected to shut five stores, but instead it is closing two, in Newbridge and Limerick.

Instead of axing 114 jobs, it will be laying off 44. It may be small comfort to those who are losing employment, but saving 70 jobs in the current climate is almost as good as creating them.

The interesting thing to emerge from it all was that a number of landlords were prepared to accept lower rents rather than lose a tenant.

Hence, Atlantic’s parent, Grafton, was able to hang on to three of the five stores originally earmarked for closure.

Atlantic was paying around twice the going rate on some of its leases. In other words, had it opened those outlets today, rather than back during the property bubble, its landlords would have charged half the rent.

The question has to be asked, why did it take a long and expensive court process, examinership, to convince landlords to cut rents to more realistic levels?

Surely, it would be easier and cheaper to sit down with tenants and agree this in the first place?

It is a fairly simple proposition, if landlords do not agreed to cut excessive rents, they risk putting tenants out of business.

The result is that they either lose income on the property altogether, or they have to lease it at a lower rent.

It is common sense, or at least you would have thought so.

While Grafton and Atlantic have sorted out their problems, what do smaller businesses, without the clout or resources of a publicly quoted company, do, when their landlords continue to insist rents that do not reflect the reality of the market?

The answer is that they either sit and suffer, or go to the wall, with the loss of jobs, and from their property owner’s point of view, rental income.

Fictitious references likely to result from new UK labour proposals

Just what is the purpose of a job reference these days? While employers already know that references rarely offer a “warts and all” view of the applicant, bizarre new proposals from the British business secretary Vince Cable suggest some UK references may be complete fairytales.

Or at least even more worthless than the current crop that come attached to CVs these days.

Mr Cable last week announced proposals to make it easier for business to dismiss staff, though not the “fire at will” rights they were seeking. The proposals include maximum compensation payments for fired workers and legal protection for offers to get poorly performing workers to quit.

Under last week’s package, the maximum compensation that can be paid for unfair dismissal will be set at one year’s pay, rather than the current, but rarely reached, limit of £72,000. Just 6 per cent of existing awards currently go above £30,000.

Mr Cable also proposes that employers unhappy with an employee will be able to make them a pay-off offer to quit.

The proposals have invited the usual array of welcome and wrath from the various vested parties in Britain’s business and union communities.

And as part of this new deal is a binding promise that employees will get a favourable reference.

HR professionals understand that references often don’t include important information about the employee’s previous work style and ability, but the new proposals seem to go much further than this, forcing employers to provide favourable references.

While it works to improve the creative writing skills in HR departments, it would seem the proposals make a mockery of the reference system.

The only crumb of comfort for UK employers is that while they’ll never get the truth about an applicant, they might be able to dismiss him or her a little easier under the new rules. And then they can set about penning a glowing reference for their former employee.

Ireland's surprisingly progressive income tax system revealed

Interesting, but perhaps not altogether surprising, to see Publicpolicy.iewading into the debate about just how much soaking the Irish rich should be subjected to in Budget 2013.

The Atlantic Philanthropies-funded think tank has as its aim “to make it as easy as possible for interested citizens to understand the choices involved in addressing public policy issues and their implications”.

In a note published yesterday looking at the Irish income tax system, it concluded that “Ireland has the most progressive income tax system (including social insurance contributions) in the EU.”

It uses the standard OECD approach of comparing tax paid by a single person on 167 per cent of average income with that payable by someone on 67 per cent of average income.

“On this measure Poland has the least progressive system in the OECD while Mexico followed by Israel has the most progressive. Ireland has the greatest absolute

difference between the two examples at 19.3 per cent of income compared with an OECD average of 9.6 per cent and has the third most progressive system in general and the most progressive in the EU,” it concludes.

When you allow for the importance of income tax in the Irish system, we fall to second place, just behind Finland.

But anyone planning to use this factoid to support the case for no further income tax hikes should heed the concluding sentence: “The fact that the evidence suggests that Ireland is an outlier does not necessarily imply that the correct course is to make the system less progressive.”

Budget 2013 - Progressivity of Irish Income Tax System iti.ms/PlJYL7


Retailer Debenhams issues a trading update as the CSO publishes wholesale price data in Ireland


The key principle at stake is that China must play by the rules of the global trading system,”

– White House official on US decision to launch WTO case against China


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