A scathing select committee report which criticises the government’s ‘woefully inadequate’ progress in tackling the island’s housing and homelessness issues will be debated by Tynwald in June.

The poverty select committee report, which sets out no fewer than 32 recommendations, was laid before Tynwald in February and the Council of Ministers’ response will be presented to this month’s sitting of the court.

‘Safe, decent, affordable housing is a part of life that many of us take for granted.

‘However, for some in our community, finding and affording this is a daily struggle,’ the report notes.

But it adds: ‘We remain frustrated by the slow rate at which significant housing and homelessness issues are being addressed.

‘It has taken two years for the administration to produce a homelessness strategy.’

It describes progress as ‘woefully inadequate’.

The report states there are many factors which affect people's ability to afford and retain good accommodation - increases in the cost of living, loss of employment, domestic abuse, physical and mental health issues, a relationship breakdown, bereavement, or simply not understanding their rights.

‘Any one of these can trigger a financial crisis which puts their home at risk,’ it says.

During the last general election, anecdotal evidence emerged of a ‘housing crisis’ which covered the availability and affordability of first time buyer’s homes, and people’s ability to get on the property ladder, as well as the lack of supply of affordable rental properties.

This was against a backdrop of escalating house prices, the rising cost of living and the government’s ambition to grow the population.

In October 2023 Housing Matters confirmed they were working with 41 people of no fixed abode. Most were sofa surfing but there was also a small number living in camper vans or tents.

The select committee on poverty was originally established in April 2018 and has delivered two reports to Tynwald, the first report on poverty definitions and data and the second on income and benefits.

Among the 32 recommendations outlined in its latest report it calls for a CoMin to co-ordinate an action plan to address issues raised in the previous reports.

It says, working in conjunction with Manx Care, a site should be identified for a minimum of 20 units of emergency housing and CoMin should commit to building a minimum of 100 older persons’ housing units by the year 2030.

The report recommends that Treasury should introduce legislation by the end of 2025 to require that empty, and second, that properties be surcharged a multiple of their rateable value to encourage them to be brought into greater use.

It says the Cabinet Office should explore a mechanism for regulating against an over-expansion of buy to let properties. An affordable mortgage scheme should be reintroduced, it suggests.

And it says there should be an annual review against demand of the type, size, location balance, accessibility, and overall number of public sector housing - with a commitment from CoMin to the number of public sector homes to be built each year to 2041.

CoMin in its response to the poverty report’s recommendations, says a commitment to build older person’s housing should follow the publication of the island’s first objective assessment of housing need, which is due imminently.

In relation to the call for a rates surcharge on vacant and second homes, CoMin merely says Treasury should continue its ongoing work on empty and dilapidated properties and report back to Tynwald by July.

And it rejects the idea of reintroducing an affordable mortgage scheme, saying it would ‘not seem appropriate that Treasury compete in this market’.

David Ashford, chair of the Housing and Communities Board, said the findings of the island’s first objective assessment of housing need will provide data-led evidence base to ensure housing programmes are delivered ‘that are going to change how people live for the better’.

‘But there is much to do’ in making public and private sector housing ‘accessible, secure and affordable’, he added.