Monthly Archives: January 2016

Wednesday 27th January

27th January
The day started with a meeting of the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee where we took oral evidence from the Minister of Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and his Chief Executive and two connected Officers. The evidence was taken in public and we had a wide ranging discussion that included Social Care provision both for young people and adults and how the Health Services is doing generally. It was interesting to note that we spend £1,962 per person in the Isle of Man compared to just over £2,000 in the UK generally, but its a difficult comparison to make as the UK system in general is substantially different to ours. However, our outcomes are similar and the Minister and new Chief Exec are making great improvements with efficiency in service delivery.

After a recent report on Porterage services which was less than complimentary, we were told that some Porters as a result of overtime payments were earning as much as £37,000 a year. This, we were reassured, is now not the case.

PM – This years budget documents available from 1300.

A private members briefing on the 2016/17 budget which for obvious reasons I cannot share at the moment.

26th January House of Keys sitting

26th January House of Keys sitting
Some interesting questions:-

Should members of the Legislative Council have positions on the Council of Ministers – the general consensus was no and this refers specifically to Tim Crookall MLC who is holding over as Minister for Department of Education and Children, probably quite logically until the general election in September.

It would appear that we will be retaining the option for people to opt into organ donation rather than opt out as has happened in some jurisdictions.

We may be in for a dedicated compulsory contribution scheme for younger people to pay for future nursing and residential care.

Some discussion around the electoral roll, it would appear lessons have been learnt and there will be a series of reminders sent out before the local elections, but it was also pointed out that it is a legal obligation with a fine of up to £1,000 for not registering although it is unlikely that anyone will be fined.

A question over the price of fuel/oil on the island, one of my continuing beefs, from central heating oil to road fuel we seem to be consistently about 10p a litre more than the average in the UK. I have tried to drill down on this as has the Office of Fair Trading but there is little progress, it is smoke and mirrors.

After questions the main order paper was well filled and we sat until nearly 6pm with three Bills for first reading, one for consideration for amendment, one for second reading and an interesting approval for the introduction for a Private Members Bill that will provide for the Chief Ministers appointment by members of the House of Keys only, rather than the joint houses which include the non elected members of the Legislative Council at present (Tynwald Court).

There were a further five Bills where clauses and amendments were considered.

Monday 25th January

25th January
Early start chairing Retail Training and Skills Committee meeting at DED, good progress with IOM College and retailer in setting up BTEC levels 2 & 3 in retailing as well as reviewing the various incentives available for retailers around the Island.

A ‘breaking the Ice’ meeting with the Isle of Man Employers Federation, a constructive meeting for want of a better word, giving me an overview of their concerns. The good news is that the sector is seeing a recovery.

Later in the afternoon an introduction to the new manager of Marks and Spencer’s, a useful meeting as they are a substantial employer on the Island and already stock local produce, but at present no locally produced meat, something I hope to address in conjunction with my role at DEFA in due course.

Friday 22nd January

22nd January
Attended a meeting with Minister Tim Crookall CEO and various Heads of Department at the Department of Education and Children. The Isle of Man is rightly proud of its education system which consistently delivers far better than the UK, increasingly offering an expanding range of college and degree courses. Apparently we have signed up with Cambridge University for International GCSE with a three year transition from what has been a reflection of the UK System. This is a more traditional examination syllabus that does not suffer from whims of the UK curriculum and political change.

Staff count in the Department has fallen from nearly 2000 to 1750 this year although its not quite like for like as the Department now has other responsibilities including the Arts Council. In terms of finance in its peak year was expending £104 million per year with a trajectory of £114 million and this year spend £96 million and that has accommodated pay rises and will drop in the following year to £90 million.

Rationalisation and efficiency continue, so far front line services have been maintained, class sizes still compare well with the UK average.