Tynwald will cover inflation and Covid

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Monday 25th April 2022 10:55 am
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Isle of Man Government coronavirus daily briefing for Thursday, June 4 - pictured is Health and Social Care Minister David Ashford (Isle of Man Newspapers )

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The next Tynwald sitting will be held on Tuesday and promises to cover inflation and the review into the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Items to lay before the court will open with a statement on the island’s financial situation from Treasury Minister David Ashford.

In a previous House of Keys sitting earlier this month, Chief Minister Alfred Cannan said the cost of living is a challenge that ‘affects us all’ and something that was ‘perhaps only witnessed by our parents’ generation’.

He explained that government is working on five keys work streams, across food, energy, transport, community and economy in response to this.

It comes after another substantial rise in the cost of gas and the effects being felt in food security as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the closure of Ramsey Bakery.

Mr Ashford’s statement next week will provide a ‘further breakdown’ of support and spending.

This will be in addition to the Easter Holiday Food Voucher Scheme that was passed into legislation recently. These vouchers offered assistance to more than 2,100 young people, who qualified for free school meals.

The request to bring the meal voucher scheme back came from the Education Minister Julie Edge. Mr Cannan added that there would be ‘more substantial proposals’ for children during the summer holidays when rising costs will be felt in the island.

Following this, there will be discussion about an independent review into the government’s handling of the Covid pandemic.

The chief minister will move that Tynwald ‘approves the terms of reference for an independent review into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic; covering the period December 2019, when the first case of Covid-19 was reported in China, to the end of September 2021, the end of the term of office of the 2016-2021 administration, with a report to be published to Tynwald by the last day of December 2023’.

The proposal was introduced last year and unanimously backed by Tynwald members in November.

Amended by Chief Minister Alfred Cannan, it was changed from a public inquiry, as proposed by Speaker of the House of Keys Juan Watterson, to an independent review.

He stressed that going through a public inquiry process could cost taxpayers several millions of pounds and take up to three years. Mr Watterson said a review would be sufficient and essential for creating a plan of action in the future.

In addition, bank charges for charities will be addressed in the sitting.

Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK Tim Glover will move that Tynwald ‘instructs the government to bring forward legislation to prohibit banks from imposing charges on charitable or philanthropic organisations’.

Previously, Isle of Man Bank came under fire and decided to put on hold its controversial plan to charge charities. It had just announced new fees and charges on the accounts of charities, clubs and societies at the time.

From May 29, 2021 the cost of monthly account maintenance was to increase by £10 with higher charges for depositing cheques in person instead of online.

In April 2021, Tynwald approved a motion calling for Treasury to draft legislation to make basic banking services free of charge for registered charities and not-for-profit clubs and associations.

Subsequently, the bank put its increased charges on hold until this year. It suspended plans further due to the current financial climate, and cited Covid and rising inflation as factors which influenced the decision.

Other topics to be addressed on Tuesday include the resettlement of displaced people and built heritage.

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