The consultation received 1,231 responses, the highest recorded response to a Government consultation. In addition the Department held a number of meetings during the consultation period which were attended by approximately 300 individuals.
Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw MHK said:
'The consultation produced an overwhelming response with a great range and diversity of views submitted. However, the results do indicate clear support for reform of social policy based on the principles of fairness and responsibility.
To give just one example, nearly 93% of respondents agreed that there should be more targeting of scarce public resources towards those in greatest need.'
The Minister continued:
The debate was not about cutting benefits or a knee jerk reaction to budgetary difficulties, rather it was the start of a continuing process to ensure our social policies are fit for purpose now and in the future. This was the first step, allowing us to gauge public opinion which I believe we have achieved and I am grateful to people for taking the time to submit their comments.
What is clear is that as we move forward there are three fundamental principles which we must continually apply. These are:
- Protect the vulnerable
- Aim for fairness of approach
- Rebalance rights and responsibilities
The consultation also revealed strong support for further principles which we will also need to apply when developing specific reforms. These are:
- Better targeting of scarce public funds towards those in greatest need
- End the assumption of universality in some benefits through the greater use of means and needs testing
- Progressively dismantle benefits traps and reduce the 'cliff edge'
- Encourage greater self-sufficiency
- Seek alternative approaches to giving more assistance rather than financial support
- Stricter controls
We will now move forward towards the progressive application of these principles in our approach to social policy. The first of these is the proposal in relation to Child Benefit as outlined by the Chief Minister in his 'Agenda for Change' speech last month.'
The next step though will be a Tynwald Debate in December, due to be followed by more detailed proposals being brought forward in early 2013.
The full Social Policy Debate consultation report can be found at: http://www.gov.im/socialcare/ConsultationDetail.gov?id=330
Paper copies are available by calling +44 1624 687044 or from:
- The Welcome Centre, Sea Terminal, Douglas
- Tynwald Library, Legislative Buildings, Finch Road, Douglas
- Markwell House, Market Street, Douglas
Isle of Man
+44 1624 686202