It seems that many people don’t understand the importance of making contributions to their pensions until it is too late and too expensive. It is partly because of this that the UK is introducing a system of workplace pensions with auto-enrolment for everybody over 22 years old and earning more than £8,105, starting later this year and being phased in over five years. It is called National Employment Savings Trust NEST. Employers and employees will make contributions to a personal pension pot for each worker.
Browsing the Isle of Man government website the other day I was interested to see that back in February this year (without much publicity apparently) the Department of Social Care (Mr Robertshaw MHK) and the Treasury (Mr Teare MHK) had considered this new scheme and together with the Council of Ministers they were satisfied it was not needed in the Isle of Man.
One of the reasons given was that the state pension here is more generous due to the Manx Pension Supplement.
The Manx Pension Supplement is an extra payment (48.8 per cent) made to people who have paid NI contributions for 10 years while living on the island. So they get £152.00 per week rather than £102.15. It seems that Mr Robertshaw, Mr Teare and other members of COMIN think that all pensioners get this added bonus to help with the cost of living on the island.
In fact about 2,000 people don’t get the Manx Pension Supplement. Some of them, like me, were born and educated here and have a Manx National Insurance number. We worked and made our NI contributions in England. It seems odd that our government would quote this unequal system as an excuse for not introducing pensions for all and encouraging everybody to save for their old age.
In fact The Chislett Report 1992 did recommended that the Manx Pension Supplement of 50 per cent be paid to all pensioners living on the island subject to a residency qualification to be decided by Tynwald. It appears that they considered 10 years residency but on the recommendation of the DHSS chose10 years paying your NI contributions on the island. Hence we have the present unfair system.
I appreciate most of our present MHKs were not in the House when that decision was made but they should not be under the illusion that all Isle of Man pensioners get the Manx Pension Supplement. They don’t. And ministers should not make policy decision on the assumption that they do.