Last night saw the publication of the gov’s Island Plan, which outlines what Alf Cannan’s administration wants to achieve over the next five years.
Now, to be blunt, it is full of detail but a tad long. So to help, we’ve broken down the key points of the Island Plan, though you can have a skeet at the full document at the bottom of this piece if you fancy a read.
However it isn’t as long or as detailed as the previous gov’s Programme for Government. That could be taken either way, but it is clear from the outset that this gov wants to set the destination while trusting departments, boards and other government bodies to mark out their path to achieving their goals.
Gimme One Vision
The Island Plan opens with the overarching vision to ‘build a secure, vibrant and sustainable future for our island nation’. Fundamentally, it says this means the gov will respond to the critical issues of: The housing crisis; Addressing issues in health and social care; Developing a stronger economy that works for people; Improving basic infrastructure; Providing for vibrant communities; Investment in education for all ages; and A successful climate change plan.
Challenges and Opportunities
The gov doesn’t seem to be approaching this with rose tinted monocles. Instead they are appreciative of the issues on the island, recognising the ‘increasing wage disparity across households’ and that the long term availability of affordable housing being ‘clearly a major challenge we need to tackle’, while also recognising the challenges of having an older population than most places.
Continuing this self-chastisement, the gov also recognises there is a skill gap in some areas on the island large enough to park the Ben-my-Chree in it and noted that dealing with climate change makes this all a bit harder.
However, there are some positives, including having strong foundations for growing the future economy and strong gov reserves (taxpayer money) and being well placed to continue this growth into the digital society.
We’re Talking About My Principles!
Part of the plans for ‘One Government’, see the gov planning to deliver on a culture of ‘people first’. This includes being a listening government with a strategic thinking and recognising its role as the steward of public funds. It also means Gov boards, departments, and offices will be required to develop action plans, work in a cohesive manner and outline public measures of performance. We actually really like this bit.
Bob the Builder
No this doesn’t mean that the Chief and CoMin are going to be out and about laying foundations or doing up the roads, then again we live in hard times and everyone could do with some extra cash so who knows.
Building great communities reflects the gov’s plan to ensure all islanders have a safe and secure home, ensuring there is a variety of housing stock to match people’s needs, focussing on developing brownfield sites and ensuring that new developments are done in a sustainable manner.
This includes establishing the Housing and Communities Board. We still don’t know too much about this but it will be chaired by Chris Thomas MHK and oversee public and private housing, working to ensure it is accessible and affordable. Part of this will also include the Manx Development Corporation, which is working to bring the island’s brownfield sites back to life.
Health and Wellbeing
As well as ensuring the island’s health and social care system is available for people throughout their lives, the plan also sees the gov wanting to encourage healthy choices, as well as supporting sport and recreational facilities. Another key aspect sees the gov committing to ensuring there is a multi-agency approach to support and protect children and all victims of abuse.
Across the lifetime of this gov, they want to address waiting times, improving access to mental health and improving working with the third sector.
It’s The Economy, Yessir!
Unsurprisingly the gov wants to build the economy. This will see it finalising the long term (10 year) economic plan, which is in the hands of KPMG. We should see this in its full form by June, so we’ll have to wait and see what comes our way. The gov also wants to focus on implementing the recommendations of the 2021 Poverty Report, including raising the minimum wage towards the Living Wage and delivering a review into National Insurance for the future funding of health and social care.
Green Hills by the Sea
While we often think of the environment as hills and forests, the gov wants us to think of everything from the pavements to the Plains of Heaven as being our environment that needs to be protected and made accessible to all. While they carve a path towards net zero emissions, the gov also plans to ensure there is a vibrant environment for the island’s young people, while also attracting newcomers to the Isle of Man. There will also be work done to ensure the future of agriculture on the island and working with farmers to plan for future food security.
Opportunities for All
The gov plans to ensure that for the next five years it is able to support educational opportunities for people of all ages across the island. A big part of this isn’t access to education or training, but also ensuring transport links and the availability and affordability of childcare. To achieve this, the gov wants to review education funding and delivery, establish more apprenticeship schemes, implement a proper Childcare Strategy and look again at the establishment of a Children’s Commissioner.
Do You Deliver?
It is all well and good for gov to say what it wants, but it has to be able to deliver and ensure people can see that it has delivered on what it set out to do. To ensure better delivery for the islander, the gov wants to reset the relationship between CoMin, Tynwald and Gov departments.
Its plan includes an annual Tynwald conference where the public will be able to debate key issues, debating and updating the Island Plan each year, making each department, board and office come to Tynwald with an annual report for scrutiny and (we really like this one) making departments justify their staffing levels.
The plan for the annual reporting is: Treasury and DoI in April, DEFA in May, DfE in June, Cabinet Office in July, DESC in October and DHSC in November.
We’re unlikely to see a democratically elected Chief Minister anytime soon, but who knows. However, the gov does want to see changes made to the ‘status quo’ where it hampers progress. We wait to see what this actually means in practice but if you listen carefully you can still hear the voice of a now retired Douglas East MHK shouting ‘single legal entity’.
Over to You
What we’d really like to know is what you think is missing or what you’d like to see more detail on. Email us at email@example.com with the subject of ‘Ask Alf’ and we’ll put your Qs to the Chief Minister at the next opportunity.