In­dus­try in calls over Brexit and devo­lu­tion

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY MAR­GARET CAN­NING

TWO OF North­ern Ire­land’s big­gest busi­ness groups have called for ac­tion over Brexit and the lack of a de­volved govern­ment here.

Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster has said that the lack of a govern­ment in North­ern Ire­land was cost­ing the sec­tor “mil­lions of pounds”.

Colin Neill, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster, to­day said the loss of an op­por­tu­nity to up­date li­cens­ing laws fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the Assem­bly was a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to the losses.

And the CBI in North­ern Ire­land has said that the econ­omy here will suf­fer greatly if mi­gra­tion is cut fol­low­ing Brexit, as a large num­ber of in­dus­tries are highly de­pen­dent on mi­grant labour.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion, led by An­gela Mcgowan, said that GDP could be re­duced by as much as 9% as a re­sult of a loss of mi­grant work­ers.

Dr Es­mond Birnie, se­nior econ­o­mist at Ul­ster Univer­sity’s Eco­nomic Pol­icy Cen­tre, said the prov­ince had the high­est per­cent­age of EU work­ers of any UK re­gion ex­cept Lon­don.

But he said North­ern Ire­land also had the high­est level of eco­nomic in­ac­tiv­ity, at 27.7%.

The CBI has called for firms of all sizes in the prov­ince to have bet­ter ac­cess to peo­ple and skills from the EU and around the world.

NORTH­ERN Ire­land’s econ­omy will suf­fer if the Govern­ment sig­nif­i­cantly cuts mi­gra­tion lev­els af­ter Brexit, the CBI has warned.

The busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tion has car­ried out re­search which pre­dicts that a sub­stan­tial cut to both EU and in­ter­na­tional work­ers could see our GDP de­crease by 9.1% by 2041. A lesser sce­nario in­volv­ing a 50% cut to EU in­ward mi­gra­tion only could see GDP re­duce by 5.3% over the same pe­riod, the re­port shows.

CBI North­ern Ire­land has said that lo­cal em­ploy­ers have be­come in­creas­ingly re­liant on mi­grant work­ers, largely due to de­mo­graphic changes and the trend for young peo­ple to move away for study or work out­side the re­gion.

The All To­gether Bet­ter re­port in­di­cates that mi­grants are cur­rently fill­ing gaps in both low-level and high-level jobs, and are par­tic­u­larly prom­i­nent in ed­u­ca­tion, health­care, hos­pi­tal­ity, agri-food and dig­i­tal in­dus­tries.

Even with cur­rent mi­gra­tion lev­els, the study shows that the pop­u­la­tion here is age­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the North­ern Ire­land Sta­tis­ti­cal and Re­search Agency (NISRA), the pen­sion­able age co­hort is to in­crease by over 40% in the next 25 years.

While the pop­u­la­tion is pro­jected to in­crease here over that pe­riod, the work­ing age pop­u­la­tion is ex­pected to de­crease by 2%.

The CBI study in­di­cates that lim­it­ing mi­gra­tion in both sce­nar­ios would see North­ern Ire­land’s work­ing age pop­u­la­tion shrink by be­tween 6 and 8%.

“This econ­omy will not sur­vive with­out get­ting full ac­cess to skills at all lev­els and get­ting ac­cess to peo­ple,” CBI NI di­rec­tor An­gela Mcgowan said.

“I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant to make sure peo­ple have the ev­i­dence and that it’s well un­der­stood and the de­ci­sions of pol­icy mak­ers do ac­tu­ally have im­pli­ca­tions for peo­ple’s lives and liveli­hoods.”

The lat­est labour force data re­vealed that there were 325,000 eco­nom­i­cally in­ac­tive peo­ple in the lo­cal work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion.

But when full-time stu­dents, re­tired peo­ple, sick and dis­abled peo­ple along with those who look af­ter fam­i­lies or homes were re­moved, just 6% were left (19,500).

The CBI di­rec­tor said last week’s re­port from the Mi­gra­tion Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee had iden­ti­fied the chal­lenges around mi­gra­tion for North­ern Ire­land “but failed to of­fer any so­lu­tions”.

Among the rec­om­men­da­tions con­tained in the CBI re­port is to al­low firms of all sizes here to have bet­ter ac­cess to peo­ple and skills from the EU and around the world.

“It’s vi­tally im­por­tant that what­ever im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem we adopt post-brexit ful­fils a num­ber of ba­sic tests.

“It must be open, con­trolled and work for all parts of the UK, whilst recog­nis­ing the spe­cific chal­lenges we face in North­ern Ire­land,” said Ms Mcgowan.

The news head­lines have been dom­i­nated by sto­ries of the Bank Build­ings en­gulfed in flames and at risk of col­lapse.

Bank Build­ings was con­structed in 1785, hav­ing with­stood not only the 1941 Blitz but also three bomb ex­plo­sions in 1975.

While dis­cus­sions con­tinue re­gard­ing its struc­tural in­tegrity, As­so­ci­ated Bri­tish Foods plc (Pri­mark’s par­ent com­pany) has con­firmed that the build­ing is cov­ered by a pol­icy of in­surance, and this should prompt prop­erty own­ers, land­lords and ten­ants to con­sider their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties when it comes to in­sur­ing their premises. In North­ern Ire­land a large pro­por­tion of com­mer­cial and re­tail units are held un­der com­mer­cial leases. A com­mer­cial lease con­tains a num­ber of obli­ga­tions, of which one will re­late to the in­surance of the build­ing.

As the land­lord’s in­ter­est in the build­ing is greater than that of an oc­cu­pa­tional ten­ant, they will usu­ally re­tain the re­spon­si­bil­ity of ob­tain­ing in­surance.

Where the land­lord in­sures, the ten­ant will usu­ally be ex­pected to re­im­burse the full cost of that in­surance pol­icy (or a fair pro­por­tion of the costs where they oc­cupy part of the build­ing).

It is un­likely that any pol­icy of in­surance will ex­tend to the ten­ant’s con­tents, fix­tures or fit­tings. There­fore, a ten­ant should ar­range its own con­tents in­surance and may be ex­pected to ob­tain pub­lic li­a­bil­ity in­surance, em­ployer’s li­a­bil­ity in­surance and in­surance for the plate glass in the premises.

Any build­ing in­surance pol­icy should cover the full cost of re­pair­ing or re­in­stat­ing the build­ing.

It is not suf­fi­cient for the in­surance pol­icy to sim­ply cover the mar­ket value of the build­ing, as this may dif­fer sub­stan­tially from the costs of re­in­stat­ing the build­ing. A land­lord will usu­ally in­sist that in ad­di­tion to the re­build­ing cost, the value of the pol­icy in­cludes any costs as­so­ci­ated with clear­ing the site, in­struct­ing ar­chi­tects and other pro­fes­sion­als and ob­tain­ing statu­tory con­sents.

While this may in­flate the price of any such pol­icy, it will help to en­sure that no ad­di­tional costs as­so­ci­ated with the re­build­ing works fil­ter down to the ten­ant di­rectly or through the ser­vice charges.

A well drafted com­mer­cial lease will in­clude an obli­ga­tion for the land­lord to in­sure against a num­ber of spe­cific risks. Such risks typ­i­cally in­clude fire, earth­quake, storm, flood­ing, riot and im­pact by ve­hi­cle or air­craft, but may not ex­tend to ter­ror­ism. It is im­por­tant that the risks in­sured against are as com­pre­hen­sive as pos­si­ble, as the ten­ant may find them­selves re­spon­si­ble for re­pair­ing dam­age or de­struc­tion caused by an unin­sured risk un­der the re­pair pro­vi­sions in their lease.

A lease should in­clude a mech­a­nism for the sus­pen­sion of rent where the build­ing is dam­aged or de­stroyed by a spec­i­fied risk.

Where a ten­ant is leas­ing part of a build­ing, it is vi­tal that the sus­pen­sion of rent is linked to the dam­age or de­struc­tion of the build­ing and not just their premises. If the sus­pen­sion of rent was linked to the ten­ant’s premises only (as op­posed to the build­ing which the premises form part of ), the ten­ant’s obli­ga­tion to pay rent would con­tinue even if their premises were un­fit for oc­cu­pa­tion. A ten­ant should also en­sure that any clause deal­ing with the sus­pen­sion of rent ex­tends to the sus­pen­sion of the ser­vice charge and ad­di­tional costs payable un­der their lease.

It may seem un­usual to con­sider the dam­age or de­struc­tion of the land­lord’s build­ing or the ten­ant’s premises when en­ter­ing into a lease. How­ever, the black­ened sand­stone fa­cade of the Bank Build­ings stands as a re­minder that this even­tu­al­ity is not out­side the realms of pos­si­bil­ity.

Michael Press is a solic­i­tor in the com­mer­cial de­part­ment at Wor­thing­tons Solic­i­tors, Belfast, with ex­pe­ri­ence in a broad range of prop­erty trans­ac­tions in­clud­ing com­mer­cial leases, ac­qui­si­tions and dis­pos­als and res­i­den­tial con­veyanc­ing. He can be con­tacted at michaelp@wor­thing­ton­ or on 028 9043 4015.

Warn­ing: An­gela Mcgowan

Flames en­gulf­ing the Bank Build­ings in Belfast city cen­tre

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