BANK OF IRELAND PULLS PLUG ON NON-RESIDENT MORTGAGE MARKET - Bank of Ireland has stopped offering expat, or non-resident, mortgages to Irish people living overseas who are looking to buy a property back home. 

The move means that the market for mortgages for Irish living overseas has shrunk substantially, with AIB now the dominant player. According to a spokesman, the bank stopped offering expat mortgages earlier this year, and will now process mortgages only for customers resident in the Republic of Ireland at the time of their application. "Non-resident mortgages was a very small proportion of our book, and our main focus is on first-time buyers, movers and more recently our re-entry to the broker market," he said. The move means those hoping to secure a property while living abroad will now have substantially less choice, says the Irish Times. Non-resident mortgages have grown in popularity in recent years as the wave of emigrants who left Ireland during the downturn started to think about their return home. With rents soaring across the country, and applicants precluded from applying for a mortgage for at least six months once they return home, many emigrants have moved to buy a home while still living overseas, with a view to renting it out until they return.

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EMPLOYERS WANT TO PAY HALF OF RECOMMENDED 6% INTO AUTO-ENROLEMENT PENSION - Employers want to pay just half what the Government is proposing into a new 'auto-enrolment' scheme for 860,000 workers with no pension. 

Ibec has proposed that employers put a minimum of 3% of pay into the scheme that is due to be rolled out from 2022. This would be matched by staff. However, the Government has proposed that employers eventually contribute twice this amount. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said they should pay a minimum of 6% from 2027 under a proposal launched earlier this year, says the Irish Independent. The level of contributions that will eventually be made by employers and employees has still to be decided. But the portion of wages that will be plunged into the scheme will be crucial to its success. The Government aims to prevent around 860,000 workers who only have the State pension to rely on in retirement from facing poverty in old age. The majority of them work in low-paid jobs, including in retail and hotels. Under the Government's plan, workers aged between 23 and 60 and earning more than €20,000 a year would be automatically enrolled in the scheme. The State would contribute €1 for every €3 saved. Ibec's submission to Government on the proposed scheme says it supports its proposal that minimum employer and employee contribution rates are initially set at a modest 1%. But it argues that higher contributions after this would hit the competitiveness of Irish-owned businesses. It also says it could put workers off staying in the scheme and cause them to opt out.

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'IMMENSE SCOPE' FOR CORK-UK GROWTH - Businesses need to respond to Brexit and its challenges, as it will bring "real changes for all of us, regardless of what form it takes", Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said. 

Speaking at the launch of a joint report between Cork Chamber and the British Embassy on growing economic links between the south-west and various UK regions, Mr Coveney said the importance of regional development could not be understated. "Both of our companies have economies that are focused heavily on our capital cities. However, it is important that we focus on developing our next-tier cities as a strong counterbalance to capitals," he said. Wales provided a good example of the importance of a regional relationship, Mr Coveney said. Ireland is Wales fourth largest trading partner, writes the Irish Examiner, and there are an estimated 85 Irish companies with a presence in Wales, employing just over 5,500 people. This is a growing economic relationship, with the value of Welsh exports to Ireland 15% higher in 2017 than 2016. In addition, Welsh ports are one of the principal transit points for large quantities of Irish imports and exports, both to the UK and beyond. 

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PUBS ADAPT TO CHANGING UK DRINKING HABITS - British pubs have adapted to a changing society by becoming bigger, serving more food and focusing on tourist hotspots, the Office for National Statistics HAS said. 

While there are 22% fewer pubs since the advent of the financial crisis in 2008 the number of people working in the trade has increased 6% over the same period, the ONS said. The industry’s turnover has fallen 11% in real terms between 2008 and 2016, but the real revenue per pub rose 13%, with the surviving pubs having "soaked up the custom" from those that have closed, the ONS said. Britain’s pubs have had to adapt to a changing society with growth in ethnic groups that tend to drink less, an increased focus on healthy living and less drinking among young people contributing to a fall in the amount of alcohol that Britons drink. Pubs have also faced competition from cheap supermarket booze. Only 58% of adults in England who responded to a 2017 survey by the National Health Service reported drinking in the previous week, down from 65% in 2007. In response to changing social mores, the average pub has become bigger and hired more people: the ONS said this may be because pubs are "increasingly focused on serving food as well as drink, which requires more waiting and kitchen staff." the number of pubs has either risen or remained stable in "popular tourist areas", the ONS said, including pretty rural areas such as the Scottish Highlands and Ceredigon in Wales, and seaside resorts such as Scarborough, Blackpool and Brighton. Some urban areas - the London borough of Hackney, York and Newcastle - have also seen more pubs opening.