A backbench MHK has called for more support for self employed and small business owners in her response to the 2021/22 Budget.

Douglas South MHK Claire Christian said the Budget is ‘essentially a holding budget, one that will hopefully be the springboard for the next administration, as we transcend out of the Covid pandemic’

Following on from Daphne Caine’s suggestion that Mr Cannan had conjured up the Budget, Mrs Christian asked: ‘But what does it mean for self employed and small and medium-sized enterprises who make up up to 70% of our economy, will they agree with this good news treasury? After all, will they agree that the covid business support back in April was rapid?’

She added: ‘I am pleased to hear the pension triple lock has been honored, one of the opportunities of a wealthy older population, means we can see an increased demand in areas ranging from care services, cleaning, gardening, redevelopment, education, and personal training. Servicing our aging population is a long term opportunity for multiple markets sectors.

‘I am pleased to see the suggestion of a sovereign bond, which I advocated in my first official meeting with the Treasury Minister would bring additional revenue. To meet expenditure, the government has two options to either raise taxes or to issue bonds, the first being unpopular and unpalatable in the current economic climate the second is a prudent step I welcome to assist foot the bill of £200million.

‘This is a holding budget, what I was hoping to see were initiatives to help support SMEs and their employees.  Perhaps a similar initiative of an Employment Allowance which was introduced by the UK Government. This allows each business to employ four full time employees on the National Living Wage without having to pay any employer NI Contributions over the year.  This would boost the opportunity for investment from small businesses that can employ more staff and afford higher wages, putting more money back into the pockets of the people and narrowing the wage gap.’

However, Mrs Christian called on the Treasury to keep the pressure on the UK government to maintain the VAT threshold and rates to support small and medium-sized enterprises.  She warned: ‘If the VAT threshold was to drop, that would affect many many businesses forcing them to register and could have a huge impact on our SME structures.  In essence more jobs losses could occur.’

She added: ‘We have to think about our current and immediate economic environment. More people are being made redundant in the banking and retails sectors.  Because this budget sees minimal increases to the welfare benefits such as job seekers allowance and child welfare benefits, now is the time to support the most vulnerable in society. The lack of meaningful increase to benefits, is essentially a pay cut for those on low incomes or no incomes who are dependent on benefits.  Rising costs, bills, cost of living puts pressure on many of my constituents, their families, and I am sure this is island wide.’