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Rents rise at record rates; ministers wary of middle tax rate; and fears over winter power cuts

Business Today: the best news, analysis and comment from The Irish Times business desk


Rents soared at the fastest rate on record in the second quarter of this year as the availability of rental homes reached an all-time low, according to a new report by property group Daft.ie. Colin Gleeson writes that the average market rent nationwide between April and June was €1,618 per month, 12.6 per cent higher than the figure a year previously and highest annual rate of inflation in rents recorded by Daft.ie since it launched its regular rental market reports in 2006.

The Tax Strategy Group publishes its pre-budget papers this morning, including one on the prospect of a new 30 per cent income tax rate for middle earners. However, Eoin Burke-Kennedy writes that it appears Government ministers favour widening income tax bands as a way of easing the tax burden on middle-income earners over a new 30 per cent rate.

Fears are growing that homes and small businesses will face power cuts this winter as Ireland’s electricity system faces increased problems, including unreliable wind power and older generators that may go offline at crucial points. The concerns come as Eirgrid yesterday issued a system alert as low wind and electricity imports, along with unexpected power-plant shutdowns, squeezed supplies, increasing the risk of a power cut.

Two companies co-owned by celebrity chef Dylan McGrath, which are behind his Rustic Stone and Brasserie Sixty6 restaurants, are among the first businesses seeking to restructure their debts under a new process for small and micro companies. Colin Gleeson reports.

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Buildings in premier shopping sites in Dublin and Cork, previously occupied by Debenhams have come on the market. Cushman & Wakefield are guiding around €75 million for the buildings on Dublin’s Henry Street and Cork’s Patrick Street — both formerly controlled by the Roche family of Roches Stores fame.

Receivers Grant Thornton were appointed by Bank of Ireland earlier this year to oversee the sale of the properties, and property group Cushman & Wakefield has now been appointed as agent for the sales.

Bank customers have been warned to be on the alert for “smishing” scams over coming months as fraudsters take advantage of the chaos caused by a million account holders moving banks. The Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland says victims of text message scams have been hit for an average of €1,700 in the first half of the year while businesses lost an average of €14,000 to invoice fraud over the same period. Ian Curran has the details.

Ireland has the third most people with a digital bank account per capita in the world, according to a new report, although the number is down on last year, writes Colin Gleeson. Revolut remains the biggest player in the Irish market.

And sticking with banking, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe was warned that a hefty fine for AIB over tracker mortgages could represent a “negative surprise” as the State prepared to sell a significant stake in the bank by officials. The counsel came as they expressed confidence that there were enough financial heavy hitters in the market for up to €300 million — and possibly up to €350 million — of AIB shares ahead of the State selling down its stake earlier this summer, writes Ken Foxe.

Ulster Bank has said it will begin writing to its roughly 75,000 credit card customers from next month, giving them six months’ notice to close their accounts and find a new service provider, before the cards are frozen. Ian Curran reports.

Renewable energy companies will earn six times more revenue for 12-month period from October than they were predicted to make two years ago, according to the industry regulator. In his column, Barry O’Halloran argues that limiting their revenues is the fastest way to address rapidly rising energy costs.

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