There was a lunchtime business briefing today featuring Treasury Minister, Alf Cannan and DFE minister, Laurence Skelly

The session also featured, gov chat show host, James Davis in a flashy studio setting 

The Economic recovery programme was launched last Summer, as part of the IoM financial fight back 

6 work streams for the programme.

Minister Cannan

Good afternoon, I’m sure you’ll agree we don’t want to be in this situation 

Lockdown extended, not the news we wanted

Will update  you on the long term future, as well as the here and now. 

Here’s a few slides, I will remain seated due to Covid rules;

Three core objectives;

  • Stabilise the economy 

  • Protect people and jobs

  • Invest in the future

Core Support Schemes

  • Salary Suport – £63 million – supporting 11,000 people

  • MERA – £11 million – 2,500 people 

  • CBSS – £22.5 million – 2,500 businesses 

Other support schemes available for Tourism and there’s also the VAT deferral scheme, 5% VAT and the National Insurance Holiday

A new scheme – Business premises – £7.5 million is being announced today…

Unemployment 

  • Peaked at 1350 people in March 2020

  • We have had a steady decline 

  • July – December did see some steadying off but it has started to rise again 

Vacancies

  • Wave effect follows pandemic lockdown period 

Current Situ

  • MERA Increased from £200 to £230 

  • Salary Support increased from £280 to £310 

Support Extension 

  • MERA extended until at least the 12th April 

  • Salary Support open for April 2021

  • CBSS further £1,000 automatic payment to those already paid 

We recognise that there are cash flow issues in certain areas – A recent Chamber business survey told us that 67% businesses had 8 weeks cash or less

Additional support grant based on 12 months rates bill. Which will be used as a proxy for the cash that you will receive based on size of business and scale of overheads

Hope to get the money out next week, full details to follow 

One off payment of £250 for hospitality businesses who voluntary closed following gov advice on the 27/28 Feb 

Emphasise that Tax and Customs will listen to businesses on a case by case basis

Estimated cost for March lockdown is £21 million 

The business community is being well supported, trying to make sure all bases are covered. 

Understand it’s a difficult period, lots of uncertainty, we get that we need to do more. 

Average rate bill for non essential retail about £3,500 

Economic Recovery Initiatives;

  • Our people – create 1,000 training and education and work placement opportunities 

  • Our Island – Invest in or speed up initiatives that help to transform our Island and support construction 

  • Our domestic economy – Events fund, business training workshops etc 

  • Our future – 1,000 new jobs in new business sectors over the next five years 

Economic Strategy – Strategic partner will be announced soon 

We do recognise that there are critical issues developing so we are enhancing our support 

QUESTIONS

JD: You want to bring the industry with you…have you embraced them so far?

Skelly: Agency model is true public / private partnership. They play an important role. The Chamber of Commerce and IOD do too. Input has been important.

JD: General feedback… What has it taught you?

Skelly: We are trying to react as well as being proactive. Hopefully announcements today will alleviate concerns. Does one size fit all? No. 

Broadening business adaptation scheme to all sectors. Strong innovation spirit on the Island. 

JD: How far can spirit take you?

Skelly: That’s why the support is there

JD: If we fast forward, do you have a picture of the long term future?

Skelly: Not at this time. Economic Recovery Group are going to launch their strategy soon. Right now dealing with the right here and now. 

JD: How do you begin to find the right balance? A thankless task…

Alf: Economic strategy underway. Full contribution from business and individuals. We can work together in partnership with individuals and businesses. There will be critical areas of investment in green and digital. Lots of opportunities. We want to keep businesses stable and get them across the line. 

Kristen: Green and Digital strategy doesn’t seem visible?

Skelly: National Broadband plan vital. Opportunity to accelerate with an extra £1.5 million. We have E-Sports, Blockchain and IOT. Department looking at scheme adoption around carbon footprint. Might not seem highly visible, more coming down the line. 

JD: Have we diversified enough?

Skelly: The IOM has dealt with a lot. Diversification continues to grow. Medicinal Cannabis opportunity.

Ged: Why are hotels getting so much support but not wider hospitality?

Skelly: Understand sentiment and challenge. Prom disruption and Flybe crash – Hotels have had a nightmare. Important economic sector. Hospitality sector has ‘enjoyed’ seven months of normality. The rates thing is significant for them. And the 250 quid. 

Local Companies: If a business pays rates to a landlord – Can their business apply?

Alf: Businesses will have to work with landlords to evidence the payment. Full details will be published imminently 

Local Companies: Can you apply for multiple premises?

Alf: In theory that should be the case, but wait for the full details. We’ll get them out ASAP. Getting cash out is the primary driver. 

Michael: Domestic economy is shouldering the costs of the crisis, is this fair?

Alf: Yeah that is fair. That’s why we have reacted the way we did. Almost a year to the day that we launched the scheme. Domestic economy and cashflow at the heart of our thinking. Very conscious that the situation has been compounded. 

Dom: How certain are you about the economy opening up on the 12th? And are you moving to mitigation?

Skelly: Key element of exit framework is vaccine. 6th April based on construction as less risk. 

JD: Is £250 appropriate for hospitality businesses who lost thousands on the Sat night lockdown?

Alf: Difficult to define how much people lost. We’ve determined that £250 will be an additional top up. 

JD: Rather than focusing on being open for 7 months, hospitality has been closed for 5…

Skelly: Yeah but the hotels couldn’t open at all. And you had the SuperManx Bank Holiday. 

JD: Some businesses have no capital available to create new revenue streams?

Skelly: Comes back to the range of measures. There are schemes through the banks too backed by Government 

Answers to other questions will be available on the website 

Michael: What do you think the long term effects will be?

Alf: In the budget we made an attempt at forecasting. 2022 / 2023 for Government income levels. 18 months – two years best case scenario. We push forward with optimism – vaccine roll out. There will be opportunities for the Island in the future. Economic strategy will lead to a clear direction. 

JD: What gives the IoM a competitive advantage?

Alf: Safety, we can react quickly. Competitive world. The Island will offer good advantages. 

Mitch: Concerned that support for hospitality is not there for restaurants…

Skelly: Suggest you contact us and give us more detail and background. Here to listen and react. Business agency gathers as much evidence as possible. Share experiences so we can understand. 

Mitch: £300,000 lost over 5 months with little help..

Skelly: That is a lot of money. Hopefully he can benefit from VAT reduction. 

Karen (no joke): What is going to be done to combat unemployment?

Skelly: Our people work stream. Significant inroads. Lots of training and educational opportunities. Manx restart scheme. 

John: What can gov do to regenerate Douglas town centre?

Skelly: Independent retailers have performed well. A lot of positives and successful stories. 

JD: Manufacturing, falling between the cracks?

Alf: We’re working with them but don’t want to go into circumstances 

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