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Facebook to add 1,000 jobs in Ireland in 2019

Facebook is to hire an additional 1,000 people in Ireland over the course of 2019. The extra roles will be created across 60 teams, including the social media giants’ engineering, safety, legal, policy, marketing and sales teams.

The roles will based on its Ballsbridge campus which was previously home to AIB.

The expansion will bring the total number of people employed across its centres in Cork, Dublin and Meath to 5,000.

The announcement was made in Dublin today by the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, while she attended Facebook’s Gather event in Croke Park.

More than 500 small and medium businesses from Ireland and across the EMEA region attended the event.

Speaking on one of Facebook’s priorities in 2019 to earn users’ trust, Ms Sandberg said: “Facebook is a very different company to what it was in 2016 or even a year ago”.

She detailed the steps the company has taken, and will be taking, in key priority areas including “the safety and security of Facebook’s users; the commitment to cracking down on fake accounts and false news; strengthening defences against election interference; and being even more transparent in how it operates and makes decisions, to make itself more publicly accountable”.

Meanwhile, Head of Facebook Ireland, Gareth Lambe, admitted today that the company is concerned about the current housing crisis gripping the country.

However, he says it is not something which has stunted Facebook’s growth, and insists he has faith in how the government is tackling the problem.

“We’re concerned, of course; to date, it hasn’t been a blocker for us hiring, we have over 4,000 people here in Ireland and announcing another 1,000 today is a big investment,” he said.

POP OUT We support all the government’s initiatives, we think they’re doing all the right things around planning, reform and cost benchmarking and all the infrastructure reform that we’re doing.

“We think that will release this glut in a few years, we see it being not as bad in a few years,” he said.

It was also announced today that Facebook would triple its investment in online safety programmes run by the National Anti-Bullying Centre (ABC) and SpunOut.ie, bringing the total investment to €1m.

The funding will go towards research and an online training program for teachers and parents of secondary school students.

An online safety resource for teenagers will also be created in partnership with SpunOut.ie.

First interest rate rise in 10 years adds to UK mortgage burden

Bank of England’s raised cost of borrowing, from 0.25% to 0.5%, may add £22 a month to average variable interest rate loans.

Millions of homeowners face higher mortgage payments after the Bank of England said it could no longer tolerate the inflation level and announced the first increase in interest rates in more than 10 years.

Despite weak growth and mounting uncertainty over the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU, Threadneedle Street increased interest rates to 0.5% from 0.25% on Thursday, reversing emergency action taken immediately after the Brexit vote.

The move will add £22 a month to the costs of servicing the average variable rate mortgage, although the recent popularity of fixed-rate home loans means it will initially affect only 43% of home buyers.

Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, said it was time “to ease our foot off the accelerator” but sought to reassure consumers and businesses that the first increase in rates since July 2007 was not the start of a sustained upward trend.

He said: “To be clear, even after today’s rate increase, monetary policy will provide significant support to jobs and activity. And the monetary policy committee continues to expect that any future increases in interest rates would be at a gradual pace and to a limited extent.”

As things stand, Threadneedle Street is expecting two further quarter-point increases in interest rates by the turn of the decade, which would leave them at 1%.

The Bank said that the financial crisis and deep recession of a decade ago had permanently damaged the economy’s growth potential. Brexit had further reduced the “speed limit” at which the UK could operate without generating higher inflation, Carney said.

Still, the rate decision sparked sharp questions over the ability of consumers to repay loans amid rising use of personal borrowing and credit cards to offset higher prices.

Households are, in total, expected to face about £1.8bn in additional interest payments on variable rate mortgages in the first year alone, according to analysis by the accountancy firm Moore Stephens. The firm also estimates that households will pay as much as £465m in additional costs on credit cards, overdrafts, personal loans and car finance.

The Bank faced criticism for the timing of its decision due to weak readings on the economy and a lack of clarity from the Brexit talks.

The TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “This is the last thing hard-pressed families need. With living standards falling, the economy needs boosting not reining in.”

David Blanchflower, a former member of the MPC, criticised the rate rise and said it would be reversed. “This is guessonomics. There is nothing in the data to sustain this rise,” he said.

Despite the prospect of higher costs for borrowers, the interest rate rise will prove a boon for savers if banks match Threadneedle Street’s increase with a jump in the interest paid on deposits. Theresa May’s spokesman said the government expected to see higher rates passed on to savers.

Some banks have already said they will increase rates on their savings as well as put up the repayments demanded from borrowers, including Royal Bank of Scotland and TSB.

The move by Threadneedle Street comes amid a squeeze on households’ living standards from rising prices, outstripping the growth in earnings, following the devaluation of the pound since the EU referendum. It hopes that will offset the increase in borrowing costs.

Carney said “the worst of the real income squeeze is ending”, adding that higher interest rates were “part of ensuring that it does not come back”.

About a third of households have a mortgage on a home, according to the Bank. In aggregate, mortgage debt represents about three-quarters of the overall stock of household debt. Fixed-rate mortgages by value have also risen significantly in recent years, to about 60% of the stock of mortgages, which the central bank said meant that the impact of the rate hike would only feed through to households gradually.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, said higher rates presented “a serious problem as many individuals, families and companies rely increasingly on borrowing to get by”.

There have been some signs of consumers using savings or borrowing money from banks or on credit cards to keep up with day-to-day spending in recent months. However, high-street sales are falling at their fastest rate since the height of the recession as consumers tighten their belts. Pushing up the cost of servicing debts, “will kick one of the few parts of the economy that was working”, Cable added.

United Kingdom has been left embarrassed over Brexit

Great Britain has been left embarrassed on the world stage and there is international “bafflement” over Brexit, former foreign secretary David Miliband said.

The UK was viewed from abroad as being at a “low ebb” and “in retreat”, the former Labour cabinet minister said.

Mr. Miliband, chief executive of the International Rescue Committee aid organisation based in New York, said Labour should press for the option of continued membership of the EU to remain on the table when Parliament votes on the Brexit deal.

And he criticised Theresa May’s approach to triggering Article 50, starting the two-year countdown to Brexit, without knowing the outcome.

In an interview in the December issue of British GQ, on sale on Thursday, Mr. Miliband said: “I take no pleasure in Britain’s embarrassment.

“Those of us who are outside the country take absolutely no pleasure in the low ebb to which Britain has sunk.

“Brits abroad look at the fact other countries see us in retreat, having lost our way.”

The former foreign secretary said: “I was in office when Article 50 came into the Lisbon Treaty and no-one in their right mind thought a country would be crazy enough to pull the pin on the grenade unless they were absolutely sure about how the two-year ticking time bomb was going to go.

“You’ve got to be deeply worried about the prospects, for the country, of the negotiation, because we stand to lose much more than Europe does.”

He said Labour should argue that Parliament – or even the people, in a second referendum – should be given the choice between the Brexit deal negotiated by Mrs. May’s Government and continued membership of the EU.

Ministers have said they intend to give Parliament a vote – but that would decide between accepting the terms on offer or leaving the EU without a deal.

Mr. Miliband said: “Labour should argue that the British parliament or people must be given a choice between the Brexit deal negotiated and membership of the EU.