A cap on benefits is being considered as part of a wider review of the Isle of Man’s welfare system, Treasury Minister Eddie Teare has told iomtoday.
The Isle of Man Newspapers newsroom revealed last week that 15 families would be affected if a £500 a week benefits cap (equivalent to £26,000) similar to the one in the UK was introduced here – and that the number would rise to 61 if the cap was set at £400 a week.
The UK benefits cap does not apply to pensioners or families claiming Disability Living Allowance.
Mr Teare said: ‘We are currently conducting a review of the benefits system and a cap is something we will take into account. I hope to have more detail in later summer.
‘What we have to focus on are those people in genuine need. As part of the review we will look at whether the UK benefits system is an appropriate one for the island. Should we continue to follow the UK or in effect set up our own system which recognises our own demographic profile and ability to pay?’
He said: ‘What started out after the Second World War as a safety net has in some cases become a comfort blanket.’
There was a clear connection between living on benefits and poor health, he added.
Chief Minister Allan Bell said: ‘We have been reviewing the benefits system and some changes have already been made. The principle of means testings has been accepted by government.
‘The reform will continue. Whether if not it will include a benefits cap is something to be considered by the Council of Ministers.
‘We will closely observe changes brought in elsewhere to see whether they are appropriate for the Isle of Man.’
Details of the number of families potentially affected by a possible benefits cap were revealed after we submitted to an access to government information request.
Someone earning the minimum wage (£6.40 an hour for adults) would be paid £256 a week for working 40 hours (an annual salary of £13,312).
The average salary in the island currently stands at £32,240, according to the latest government statistics. The mean salary, which excludes the distorting effect of the super-rich is £26,208, or £504 a week.