The Government last week published its Earnings Survey Report for 2018, and it certainly made interesting reading.
The report confirmed that around 11.2% of employees earned less than the island’s living wage of £8.61 that was supported by Tynwald in November 2017. However, this figure has fallen from 16% in 2016, so it is definitely a step in the right direction.
Looking at page 17, table 10, people could also be concerned for those individuals on a minimum wage, as the figure appears to have increased from 1.8% in 2011 to 3.4% in 2018.
However, since 2016 the percentage of those on a minimum wage has actually fallen from 4.3% to 3.4% in 2018, and I am certain that this figure will have fallen even further after some major changes were introduced by DfE last year.
In October 2018 the island’s minimum wage increased to £7.85 for all over-18s, along with removing certain bands, which were having some effect on employing certain ages in order to pay a slightly lower rate.
Both the average and median earnings for males and females remain slightly higher than those found in the UK, but any gains are surely outstripped by the costs of living here on the Isle of Man at the moment, so this Government has to focus on reducing overall household bills wherever possible.
One other media article that certainly hit the heart and headlines this week related to Ross, who was a Social Housing tenant in Douglas for over 15 years before being evicted for rent arrears totalling just £302.04.
I enclose a link to the article because it is worth reading:
I also took the opportunity to speak to Michael Manning at Graih this week, in order to ensure that lessons are learned from this tragic set of circumstances.
Putting Ross’s own personal issues and demons to one side for a moment, the article does open up a massive debate, and unfortunately I don’t have sufficient time to cover all the bases in my weekly Blog.
However, given the fact that his rent was being paid directly to Douglas Corporation from central Government, you certainly have to question where, and more importantly how, a vital line of communication broke down, which resulted in his eviction and then sleeping in a van.
As a society we cannot allow these circumstances to repeat themselves in the future.
If someone actually receives benefits and then chooses not to pay the rent, then that is something completely different, but in this particular set of circumstances there does appear to have been a failure in the system.
I also totally disagree with the interview given by the Douglas Corporation Housing Committee Chairman, Claire Wells recently – where is the compassion…..?
Social Housing is a final stop for so many families and vulnerable people, and it is vitally important that staff within the Local Authorities fully understand their tenants and also offer the right level of support and advice when needed.
I urge anyone struggling to pay their rent to contact their housing provider, the landlord and/or their MHK at the earliest opportunity, in order to get the right level of support and help as quickly as possible.
We should also applaud the work of Graih and its staff, especially Michael Manning.
I can only hope that in the near future the doors of this wonderful charity are closed forever, and there isn’t a need for emergency accommodation.
Anyway, let’s move on. Last weekend’s schedule was a busy one…
I picked up Kevin, the Chairman of the International Professional Pool Association (IPA) and his partner, Sharon from the airport on Saturday morning. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great, but we had a busy day running around the island.
The Tourism team had scheduled various meetings with hotels and a big thank you to the staff at the Palace, the Comis and the Park Hotel for their help on Saturday as the IPA looked at potential venues for future events.
On Saturday evening Ellen and I took them to the Shore Hotel, Gansey for dinner, which was perfect. On Sunday morning, after I had dropped Ellen off at the airport, I spent a few hours taking Kevin and Sharon to St John’s, Peel, Castletown and the Sound Café.
I always enjoy showing people around our beautiful island, but I am not sure that Kevin and Sharon were totally convinced about saying hello and goodbye to our fairies as we went over the Bridge or the consequences of ignoring the little people…
I managed to catch up with a few things late on Sunday afternoon.
With Ellen away I took the opportunity to get into the office just before 7am on Monday, in order to catch up with various things before the day actually started.
Just before 9am I met up with David Addinall, a Manx Pool Professional, before we both walked down to the Mannin Hotel to collect Kevin and Sharon.
I was then able to give our guests a tour of our Manx Parliament before walking over to DfE at 10.30 for a few meetings. I didn’t attend the first meeting, which was between the IPA and the DfE Events team, just in case of any potential conflicts.
At 11.30 the team had a brief meeting with the Head of Tourism and the DfE Minister, Laurence Skelly, before having lunch at Bar George.
Just after 13.30 there was a meeting with a local travel agent who had been in touch and was willing to support the event wherever possible, which was excellent news.
Once again I removed myself from the discussions once they started to look at potential terms etc.
Last item on the agenda was a quick interview with Manx Radio, which gave Kevin an opportunity to give an insight into his first visit to the Isle of Man.
After dropping everyone off at the airport I headed home for the day, but I still needed to catch up with emails before finishing at around 18.00.
The early part of Tuesday morning was spent at home going through tourism figures and data, as I was waiting for two people to call around the house.
Just before 11am I called in to see Paul Moulton at MTTV to do a quick interview on the latest tourism figures before getting into the office.
Once I caught up with things, it was up to the Barrool Suite for a presentation entitled ‘Equality and Inclusion – Metal Health Awareness’ from 12.30.
It was another excellent presentation on trying to understand metal health conditions and their impact, along with outlining how we can take better care of our own mental health.
After catching up with a few colleagues I headed into Onchan for a couple of Constituent meetings before calling in to the new Bonds Restaurant, which is located in the old IOM Bank building.
Once home I needed to respond to a TT related issue, which was developing during the afternoon.
I finally finished for around 19.00.
Back in the office for 7.30am on Wednesday, in order to try and get on top of a few things, and the first job was to go through the Manx Museum and National Heritage Agenda Pack.
I also needed to prepare a few words ahead of opening Bonds Restaurant in the evening, which was ahead of the opening night on Thursday.
At 10am one of the businesses located on the promenade called in to see me and to share their concerns with regards to the ongoing situation ahead of the TT Festival, which gets underway at the end of May.
I finally caught up with emails before walking over to DfE at 12 noon for a TT Motorsport meeting around a particular item, which could generate a few headlines ahead of the event this year.
From there we headed straight up to the Barrool Suite for a Department of Infrastructure update on the Douglas Promenade scheme ahead of the TT Festival that is fast approaching.
Unfortunately, the meeting didn’t ease my concerns. I just hope that I am wrong but I really feel the Minister and the DOI and are underestimating the potential problems ahead.
The meeting finished just after 14.00 and I took the opportunity to head home and to review a Report of the Select Committee on Accommodation for Vulnerable Young People that will go before Tynwald very soon, but it needed careful reading before drafting a suitable response.
Back to the office for 16.45 to attend an event in the Barrool Suite, which was being hosted by St Christopher’s.
The Charity was launching its “Support into Employment” for young adults. My colleague Jane Poole-Wilson, MLC (Chairman of St Christopher’s) gave the opening remarks and there was a video, as well as workshops and a Q & A session.
It was a fantastic event and I met up with a few of the young adults I had visited previously with the Tynwald Selected Committee.
Unfortunately, I had to leave slightly early at 18.45, in order to drive into Onchan for the formal opening of Bonds Restaurant, which started at 19.00.
As MHK for Onchan it was a real privilege to formally open the restaurant, which is located in the old Isle of Man Bank building in the heart of Onchan.
The quality of the refurbishment, which includes the additional two pods, is fantastic and I certainly wish Aisha and Peter and all the staff the very best for the future.
I had a quick drink with two Onchan Commissioners in the Archibald Knox, before I headed home at 21.00.
Just enough time to send a couple of emails before finishing at around 22.15.
Back in the office before 7am on Thursday and although I had a clear day because I had moved a couple of meetings, I still needed to catch up with various things in and around the office and on a Constituent level.
I also took the opportunity to draft a couple of template letters, which I will need in a couple of weeks’ time.
I actually left the office just after 10am to do personal chores in town and at home, before heading down to the airport to collect Ellen at 15.00.
Once home I started to work though some Conference documents, along with preparing some initial notes and speeches for an event I will be attending in Guernsey later on in the month.
I also needed to catch up with a couple of Constituent and Department items before finishing around 18.00.
Woke on Friday to the reaction and the results from the UK local elections…..
There were 248 English Councils, six Mayors and 11 Councils in Northern Ireland up for election.
Both main parties (Conservative & Labour) suffered heavy losses, which is probably a hangover from Brexit, but the main headline in my eyes was the major switch from parties to independent candidates, with an increase of over 662 Councillors, along with the Green Party increasing its numbers by around 194 Councillors from the last Local Election.
Liberal Democrats also gained an additional 703 Councillors, but those gains are simply restoring their position from a savage previous Local Election.
Anyway, back to Friday which was relatively straight forward and it was all about catching up before the bank holiday weekend.
At 10am I headed over to DfE for a tourism meeting, which was a general catch up.
I then headed up to Manx Radio to do an interview and once back in the office I started to go though a timeline on a particular item I am looking at on behalf of St Peter’s Church in Onchan.
I also needed to draft an email on behalf of 2nd Onchan Scouts, which I will send out to various people over the weekend.
At 14.00 I walked down the hill to a local firm of advocates who are representing St Peter’s Church.
Back to the office and upstairs to the Barrool Suite for a presentation, but I could only stay a few minutes as I headed home for just after 15.00.
I still needed to catch up with a few things at home before finishing at around 17.00.
Just when I thought I was finished for the day, there was a press release from central Government confirming that the Chief Executive of the Department of Health and Social Care, Dr. Malcolm Couch and Deputy, Michaela Morris had left their posts, possibly ahead of Sir Jonathan Michael’s Independent Report into the Island’s Health Service.
I never understand why Government needs to issue press releases at 16.55 on a Friday just before a bank holiday weekend.
Next week’s Blog will focus on the resignations and historical events, including my own resignation under the previous Minister, Kate Beecroft, MHK.
As for the weekend, I have a number of things I need to catch up with.
I will also need to start looking at the Tynwald Order Paper for May.