Money Talks

The gov has spent £123,204.90 on media and public speaking training for CoMin over the last five years, figures released in Tynwald show. Speaker Juan Watterson asked the Chief Minister how many people are employed in the gov’s central comms division and how much has been spent on external speech writers and media and PR consultants. 

While there are 10 full time staff in the comms team, three are on limited term contractments, two are responsible for graphic and multimedia design and one will transfer to Manx Care later this year.

In addition, the gov has spent £1,641,541 with the London based PR firm Lanson which also provides media advice when required. 

Median Income

The median full time wage after tax has risen by £1,309 since 2016, according to figures in a written answer from the Chief Minister. The latest figure only covers wages up to 2020 as the Earnings Survey for 2021 is still being undertaken. 

Mr Quayle said: ‘As the data above shows, it is positive that people’s earnings have continued to grow in real terms over the last few years, however it is important not to forget that not everyone, especially in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will have experienced a pay rise in recent times and some people will have unfortunately lost their jobs. However, with the support of the ERG, through a number of initiatives, many businesses have been supported to survive, recover and now grow again, which is helping, and will help, people to find new employment.’

Family Library

Following a question from Douglas Central MHK Chris Thomas, the gov has outlined how it supports the Family Library and the further offer of support it has made. 

The Chief Minister said: ‘As a charity, the Family and Mobile Library has been in receipt of bona vacantia funds. Initially Tynwald agreed to fund the Family and Mobile Library Ltd for a period of two years at £125,000 per annum. A further £125,000 was committed between August 2019 and August 2020 with commitments made by the Family and Mobile Library Ltd to look for a sustainable future funding model. Significant help has been provided by Government to the Family and Mobile Library annually in addition to the funding agreed by Tynwald.

‘The building in which the Family Library is housed is owned by the DESC and leased to the Family Library for a peppercorn rent. The Mobile Library vehicle is also owned by, and leased to, the Family and Mobile Library Ltd. by the same department. In addition to this, fuel is provided by Government as well as ongoing maintenance of the mobile library vehicle which is carried out by the DoI.’

However, despite this, the Library does still face an uncertain future and many people are calling on the gov to fully fund the library to ensure it can carry on not only its community work, but also the work it does to provide a home delivery service to the island’s more rural areas where parishes don’t have their own library.

Living Wage

Nobody was paid the £10.19 per hour living wage rate in 2020, according to figures released by the gov. Speaker Juan Watterson asked the Minister for Policy and Reform: How many people were estimated to be earning (a) the minimum wage, (b) between the minimum and living wage, and (c) the living wage for the latest year where figures are available?

In his response Mr Harmer said: ‘The Living Wage for 2020 that was in effect at the time of the Survey was £10.19 per hour whilst the minimum wage that was in effect was £6.15 for those under 18 and £8.25 for those aged 18 and over.

‘There were no individuals in 2020 being paid at exactly living wage; 2.5% of individuals were being paid at the minimum wage, and 13.5% of individuals were being paid between the two rates.’

Economically Active Population

A further question, this time from Mr Thomas, for Mr Harmer asked how much the economically active population rose from 2016 to 2021. Mr Harmer’s data shows that from a low of 43,099 in 2016, this figure then peaked at 44,714 in September 2019. This fell to 44,189 in 2020 but did show recovery to 44,357 by June of this year.

Fibre Broadband

The gov is on track to meet its target of passing 50% of premises by the end of July for the rollout of fibre broadband. By the end of June, this equates to it having passed 20,578 premises in total or 48.4% (on a basis of 42,500 total premises – business and residential).

In the ‘National Broadband Plan intervention zones’ 577 premises have been connected, with 494 pending and in the outer zone, 5,099 are connected with 1,322 pending.

Corrins Home

The closure of the Corrins Home in Peel has added to the social care bill in order to support elderly residents with paying the extra costs associated with moving to other homes.

Kate Lord-Brennan MLC asked Health and Social Care Minister David Ashford what the cost difference per room has been between subsidising care costs at the Corrin Home and subsidising alternative residential care facilities for relocated residents; what this equates to over 12 months; and what the difference in room charges is?

Mr Ashford said: ‘As a private care operator, the Corrin Memorial Home provided residential rather than nursing care, and the fees for each service user were subject to individually negotiated contractual agreements. The Corrin’s website stated that prices started at £548.20 per week, but individual costs will have varied and would have reflected room size amongst other considerations. In respect of the differential costs arising from relocation to an alternative private sector care provider, these details will be known only to the service users and/or their family due to the contractual relationship between the provider and the commissioning party. The DHSC will have had no direct involvement in the relevant financial arrangements.’

However, where a resident has relocated to a nursing home it is likely that their income support entitlement will have increased or indeed they will now be entitled to claim income support when they previously wouldn’t have. Mr Ashford added: ‘This is because nursing homes charge fees which are greater than those charged by residential homes, and the maximum that is allowable for income support purposes towards nursing home fees is greater than that allowed for residential care (£826.00pw v £481.04pw).’

The Minister also revealed that the vast majority of residents who were forced to leave their home were moved, according to their preferred location, to care homes in Peel, Ramsey, Douglas and Port St Mary. He said: ;In total 21 residents were relocated, 14 moving into Care Homes directly operated by Manx Care and 7 into the private sector.’

Untaxed

So far this year 393 vehicles on Manx roads have been identified as untaxed. The figures were released by the DoI Minister after a question from Jason Moorhouse MHK.

Southern Hub

Plans are underway to establish a Community Hub in Port Erin as part of a trial for a regional system to be created across the island. Chief Constable Gary Roberts has also previously said he is in favour of the creation of regional hubs which could provide access to all public services in one place. 

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