Tuesday 17 September 2019

Expats: Concerns around tax and healthcare among the barriers to returning home, says report

THE BIG PICTURE

Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Concerns around high income tax and a lack of investment in our health services are among the key barriers to expats returning to work in Ireland in the short term.

Other issues cited are housing shortages and infrastructure, according to a survey of more than 500 senior Irish professionals around the world by leadership consulting firm Merc Partners.

One in four expats said improvements in the health system would entice them home, while three in four respondents believe the healthcare offered where they currently live is better than Ireland's. Overall, 54pc of the expats surveyed plan to be back in Ireland within the next 10 years.

Of those who plan on returning, a large number of respondents have children under the age of 18.

"These findings will be of particular interest to Irish employers looking to recruit senior talent, as well as to foreign investors looking to establish a presence here," Ruth Curran, managing partner of Merc, said.

"However, there are pressure points that need to be addressed, one of which is dissatisfaction with high personal taxation rates, which is a common issue among both professionals who are hoping to come back to work in Ireland and, indeed, those who are currently based here," Ms Curran added.

Younger respondents were most optimistic about returning, while older, more-settled respondents who have lived overseas for an extensive period are more likely to stay abroad.

For those that do want to come home, half of the respondents have sensed an improvement in job opportunities in Ireland.

More than half of those likely to return check for potential career opportunities at least once a month, and more than 20pc at least once a week, the report found.

"Encouraging people home who have operated on a global stage, with all the experience, fresh thinking and confidence that brings with it, can only benefit the country," Ms Curran said.

Brexit has also had an impact on expats' views about returning home.

One in five of those surveyed believe that Brexit will affect them in some way, with younger people who are living in the UK especially concerned.

Of the UK-based expats surveyed, just under half said they were more likely to return to Ireland as a result of the UK's decision to leave the European Union next March.

However, there is a contingent of later-career professionals living and settled in the UK who don't believe that Brexit will impact their decision to return to Ireland in any meaningful way.

And while people may have moved abroad, the Irish diaspora actively follow events back in Ireland and is highly informed about societal concerns back home, regularly checking Irish newspapers and websites.

Irish Independent

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