The Liberal Vannin Party is calling on Treasury Minister Alf Cannan to ‘remain covid-focused’ in what will be the final Budget of the Howard Quayle administration next month.

A Lib Vannin statement said the Budget should be ‘fair and just, that provides opportunities for our community to start to grow and prosper again’. The party is represented in Tynwald by leader Lawrie Hooper MHK.

Keeping the Island safe and well:

This year’s budget needs to ensure funding is available for the Department of Health and Social Care to ramp up vaccinations to help protect us all. Funding is also required to provide increased resilience for our health service. We need to be able to deal with health care as usual and focus on reducing waiting lists for physical and mental health needs that have been impacted by the covid crisis.

Helping those most in need: 

Across our community, different people have endured very different experiences throughout the pandemic. Many jobs have been harmed, particularly in the in-person service sector, which can be precarious at the best of times, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic. Our government needs to ease the squeeze on the cost of living for those people who have endured a roller coaster in their income and retired people living on limited fixed incomes. There should be no Covid Tax in this budget. Suitable, affordable and sustainable housing is crucial. This budget should provide funding to support the delivery of the all-island housing strategy., including support for improving home insulation and replacing fossil fuel heating systems.

Protecting jobs and businesses:

Financial support for those businesses in greatest need must be maintained to help them, survive and keep people in jobs, whether self-employed individuals or those running or working for larger firms. Particular attention must be given to businesses like retail, health and beauty, travel, hospitality and tourism. Now is the time to invest in our people, investing in skill training and education to help those who have lost their jobs, or who are choosing to seek higher paid and higher skilled work. The budget must ensure that the government provides extra support for people and businesses seeking to access training or learn new skills. Farmers and those employed in our sea-food industry are suffering a double whammy, as markets will still be recovering from global lockdowns; alongside having to get to grips with the changed landscape following the UK / EU trade deal. Support from the government should be available as required.

Too soon to drop our guard:

Now is not the time to raise taxes and increase financial burdens on our fragile businesses and individuals as they try to get back on their feet and replenish savings spent over the last 12 months. Government has a lot more financial muscle than our small businesses or families and is much better placed to weather this storm and take a longer term approach to balancing the books. Treasury should urgently assess the financial state of our local authorities, to ensure that we don’t see rate increases in response to managing covid.

Reducing unnecessary public spending is always a good idea, but now is not the time for across-the-board cuts. Our public sector is a major part of our economy, providing essential services throughout the island. This crisis has shown us that we need to re-focus these services on our communities. This must be a year to weather the challenging financial legacy of this crisis, concentrating on building and supporting our diverse and vibrant economy as the Island recovers, by using all the policy levers available. We hope that the Treasury agrees and we look forward to seeing the budget statement in Tynwald.