What MHKs’ businesses received in Covid support

By Siobhan Fletcher   |   Reporter   |
Monday 11th April 2022 5:28 am
@siobhanfletcher
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Isle of Man Chief Minister Alfred Cannan hosts a briefing on the Omicron variant of Covid-19

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The amount of Covid support money given to companies owned by the island’s top politicians has been revealed.

The details were released as part of a Freedom of Information request.

It comes ahead of government plans to publish the details of all payments made under the various coronavirus support schemes at the end of this month.

A previous FoI request forced the publication of the amount paid to former chief minister Howard Quayle back in January.

The new request, submitted on February 2, asked the Department for Enterprise to provide ‘a list of Covid support payments made to any MHKs or companies they are directors of during the Covid pandemic’.

Some of the money listed includes payments made before members were elected and includes a variety of schemes.

The schemes include the Coronavirus Business Support Scheme, the Hospitality Transition Support Scheme, the Winter Disruption Scheme and the Coronavirus Recovery Scheme.

The largest beneficiary revealed in this response was the Sefton Group, which received a grand total of £3,106,754.17 in support via 18 separate payments.

Garff MHK Andrew Smith is listed as a shareholder in the company.

Churches Book Shop Ltd, of which Mr Smith is director, also received support, totalling £8,000.

Meanwhile, McKenzie Fox Limited, of which Chief Minister Alfred Cannan is a shareholder and director, received a grant of £3,500.

This amount was repaid in full on January 31, 2022, and is the only total on the list which had been at the time of the response’s publication.

The other members and their interests as listed in the response are as follows:

l Buffalo Bowling and Leisure Ltd (Pepsi Max Bowl), of which former Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker is a shareholder, received a total of £45,746.07.

l Mooinjer Veggy, of which former MHK Ralph Peake is director, received £8,000.

l Venture Ltd, which is owned by former MHK Chris Robertshaw, received £7,746.71.

l Manx Inspirations and Salon D’Elegance of which former MHK and current MLC Laurence Skelly is director, received £9,500 and £8,792.66 respectively.

l Skunkworks Marketing Ltd (Isle of Man Sporting and Dining Club), of which Douglas North MHK John Wannenburgh is director, received £18,000.

l As previously reported, Ballahowin Farm Holiday Cottages, which is owned by former Chief Minister Howard Quayle, received £57,125.

l Irish Sea Diving and Marine Services (Discover Diving), of which Rushen MHK Dr Michelle Haywood is director and shareholder, received a total of £27,937.45.

Dr Haywood took to Facebook to address the amount claimed by her company, saying: ‘As with many small businesses the events of the last couple of years have created opportunities to diversify, to streamline and to focus.

‘We remain thankful for the support that was offered by the Isle of Man Government and look forward to welcoming visiting divers back this year.’

She explained why the support was needed and added: ‘If anyone has any questions about the support that the business has obtained, I’d be happy to answer them.

‘The business has received just under £28,000 of support, against lost revenue each summer (2020 and 2021) of an estimated £80,000 for each year.’

l Claire Christian Couture Ltd, of which Douglas South MHK Claire Christian is shareholder and director, received a total of £21,679.91.

Mrs Christian was first elected to the House of Keys in August 2020 in a by-election.

She also released a statement via Facebook, saying: ‘I think it is important for the public and tax payers to know did I personally profit from this support? The answer is no.

‘Please note that from when the first lockdown started through to being an MHK now, I have never taken a salary or profits.’

Last week, the government said that the details of all payments made under the various coronavirus support schemes will be published in full at the end of April.

The Department for Enterprise and Treasury are to publish the details of all applicants who received financial assistance under the following schemes:

l Coronavirus Business Support Scheme

l Business Premises Support Scheme

l Hospitality Transition Support Scheme

l Winter Disruption Scheme

l December Disruption scheme

l Coronavirus Recovery Scheme

l Strategic Capacity Scheme

l Salary Support Scheme

The government stressed in a statement that it has a ‘clear commitment to transparency’.

Applicants who received financial assistance under any of the schemes listed above have been notified by email of the intention to publish details of their claim(s) and anyone who is concerned with the release of their information is encouraged to contact the relevant department as soon as possible.

The information will be published on April 29.

The information on MHKs’ companies originally included Onchan MHK Julie Edge.

However, that was out of date and the Department for Enterprise apologised to her for including it in the response to the Freedom of Information request.

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