Funding of the island’s health and care system has long been a problem for successive governments, but this one seems willing to seek to address this and, hopefully, end the annual tradition of the ministers coming back to Tynwald for more cash each year.
This year of course the DHSC Minister Lawrie Hooper is having to come and ask for an extra £10m to meet its funding for 2021/22.
In his first Budget, Treasury Minister David Ashford has outlined that the gov will be following the principles of the Sir Jonathan Michael review and pumping up the funding for the system.
To meet the required growth in funding for health and care services, the gov will be dipping into the investment income generated by the Manx NI Fund. The DHSC will be provided with an additional £8.25m to fund Manx Care in this respect, and will have access to a further £5.08m of contingency funding to address cost pressures which may arise during the next year.
Treasury Minister David Ashford said: ‘I understand that members and the public will be concerned about taking extra monies from the Manx National Insurance Fund at a time when we have already seen increased expenditure in relation to MERA and the Salary Support Scheme. However, I feel that it is appropriate to take what, in effect, is a very small sum when compared to the overall value of the fund, currently worth over £1 billion, and to invest it in our health and care services.
‘‘This is a one-off withdrawal, which is appropriate in these very unusual circumstances, and should the Treasury wish to use further amounts of investment income in future years it will have to come back to this Honourable Court to seek approval.’
As part of the Budget, Mr Ashford also outlined that the Treasury is going to undertake a review into the island’s NI fund to ‘provide a clear direction for the scope, policies and funding strategy’. When speaking to Gef, Mr Ashford denied that the decision not to increase NI now was just putting them off until next year when the review is finished, but would you bet against it given what is happening in nearby jurisdictions?