A scheme which would see businesses paid up to £1,000 for recruiting seasonal workers to the island ahead of the TT and summer season is needed to try and plug the gaps in tourism and hospitality.
We spoke to Enterprise Minister Dr Alex Allinson about DfE’s scheme which comes as the unemployment figures for February showed scores of vacancies in the two sectors.
The support offered to successful applicants through the Incentive is twofold by way of two grants, comprising payment of £500, totalling £1,000, after a six month period.
Speaking to Gef, Dr Allinson said: ‘What we’re looking at is the general work permit rules in terms of posting adverts, making sure you can’t get Manx workers available for them and then looking off-island. So we’re not trying to subvert that system, what we’re trying to do is help the hospitality and tourism sector get those essential workers that they need to keep their businesses open during the summer and contribute to the economy.’
Who Will Get £1,000
Under the scheme, successful applicants will be paid £500, to the business, after issuing the first month’s payslip to a new employee; and a further £500, also to the business, after the sixth month’s payslip has been issued. There is no guarantee that this will be extended to the employee themselves.
Dr Allinson said: ‘This is a help for the employers, we have already talked to them about the wages they pay, we’ve obviously had the rise in minimum wage from April 1. The feedback we’ve had from the hospitality sector is that they are having really difficulties in recruiting, we’ve brought in different visa routes so they can recruit off-island if they need to. There has been a really issue with recruiting on-island, but if they recruit off-island, they have travels costs, the cost of the visa, so this a way of trying to help them out so that they can keep their businesses open.’
While the scheme is for six months, we put forward concerns to Dr Allinson that given it is now April (for full transparency this interview took place on March 30) a worker coming to the island, particularly someone form outside the UK, would at best reach their sixth month pay-packet in September, meaning much later than that businesses and therefore workers wouldn’t benefit for the full summer season.
He said that the six month period has been designed to ensure that businesses using the system are getting seasonal workers.
Dr Allinson added: ‘Some people do just come over for a couple of weeks, so do we want to be using taxpayers’ money to be getting people here for just a couple of weeks when we won’t necessarily be able to recoup that through taxes and NI. This a way of getting those seasonal workers back who normally came over from Europe, the RoI and further afield and to help that recruitment process by giving the employers some extra money to cover their costs which have gone up. We know that getting to the island is more expensive, we know that the visa applications cost money, it’s that help.
‘Most of the seasonal workers we get are here for six to nine months, that is what the visa element is for, so this is a way of helping with that. But if somebody is only recruiting for a couple of weeks, we aren’t going to be giving them the full amount.’
The Gov Bit
Subject to meeting the minimum salary requirement of £20,000 and additional eligibility requirements, businesses will be able to gain financial assistance through this Incentive where roles are filled by off-Island workers or students in their last year of study.
Businesses who would like to gain support through the Incentive are required to contact the DfE prior to their role being advertised off-island to confirm their eligibility.
To find out more about the Hospitality and Tourism Worker Incentive, visit: https://www.visitisleofman.com/trade/supporting-your-business/your-staff/hospitality-and-tourism-worker-incentive