The cost of the TT to the taxpayer

Wednesday 13th June 2018 4:00 am
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Dean Harrison, Michael Dunlop and Conor Cummins 2018 TT Supersport (Photo: Dave Kneale)

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The Isle of Man’s two main motorcycling events cost the government more money to put on than it makes from it.

But the figures produced in an economic impact assessment of the TT and the Festival of Motorcycling do not take account the effect on the wider economy.

Cabinet Office member Dr Alex Allinson said: ’The next step is to look outside of government to the financial impact for individuals, companies large and small and charities.

’A further report will follow the extensive public consultation and hopefully give us the real cost of something we value so much.’

The assessment was carried out by the economic affairs division and looked at the TT and Festival of Motorcycling last year. Combined, they cost nearly £1 million more to put on than they made money for the government.

The TT brought with it costs of £6,259,736 but generated £6,864,515 - meaning a net income of £604,779.

But the Festival of Motorcycling, which cost £2,262,819 to put on, brought in £1,428,123, which meant a net expenditure of £834,696.

On top of those figures, the assessment looked at ’shared event costs’, which came to an additional £725,072.

That meant, overall, the two events cost the government £954,989 more than they brought in.

However, in its conclusion, the report says that the figures will mean more once the impact of both events on the wider economy is known.

Last year there were 45,054 visitors for the TT compared with 16,218 for the Festival of Motorcycling.

’The TT achieves a greater level of economies of scale, as the TT generates £152 per visitor of income versus £88 per visitor,’ it says.

Costs per visitor are roughly the same, at £138 for the TT and £140 for the Festival of Motorcycling.

’The full impact of the events will only become clear once the investigation into the wider economy has been undertaken,’ Dr Allinson said.

The management of the TT and the Festival of Motorcycling came under the spotlight after the Vision Nine fiasco.

A 10-year deal to appoint Vision Nine as a private promoter partner for the TT was approved by Tynwald in April 2016.

But, just seven months later, the Council of Ministers pulled the plug following legal advice.

That advice remains confidential. The contract with Vision Nine was never signed.

A select committee investigation followed and the chairman of that committee, Michael Coleman MLC, said the failure of the project and loss of taxpayers’ money was primarily the fault of Enterprise Minister Laurence Skelly and his then chief executive Chris Corlett.

Mr Skelly apologised unreservedly on behalf of his department, but some cabinet colleagues accused the select committee of conducting a ’witch-hunt’.

As part of its review of the affair, the same select committee called on the government to carry out a detailed economic impact assessment of the two events.

That assessment will be laid before next week’s sitting of Tynwald, although it is not down for debate at this stage.

In his foreword to the economic impact assessment, Cabinet Office member Dr Alex Allinson says: ’I believe that Tynwald and the people of this island recognise the value of the TT and Festival of Motorcycling both in cultural terms and the way it enhances our international reputation.

’But what we don’t know for certain is the true cost of the event and the benefits it brings to our island.

’This first report deals with the costs to government. It has taken time to try and find exact costs, expenses and incomes from all the sections of our public services.’

He points out that some costs, such as maintaining roads, were for the benefit of everyone, not just for the racing.

’I believe that this document gives an honest and open assessment of the overall financial cost of the festivals,’ he adds.

On the cover of the economic impact assessment report and on numerous occasions inside it refers to the Festival of Motorsport rather than the Festival of Motorcycling. We checked with the government and a spokesman told us it was a production error and there were no plans to change the name of the festival. Dr Allinson’s foreword refers correctly to the Festival of Motorcycling.

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