The Isle of Man’s solid financial foundations and its ability to meet the challenges ahead were the key themes when Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan MHK delivered his 2019 Budget in Tynwald today (Tuesday 19 February).
Mr Cannan highlighted a package of measures designed to support working families, to target further job growth, to invest in vital infrastructure and to strengthen frontline public services, with a particular focus on policing and healthcare.
While acknowledging the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, Mr Cannan said:
‘We have solid foundations on which we can adapt to meet our challenges. In a year that promises international political and economic turbulence, this Budget provides a platform for confidence in our Island and the future.’
The Minister revealed the Isle of Man Government’s accounts are forecasting a surplus of £28m in the current year - representing an increase of £18m on the budgeted amount - and that Treasury’s five-year financial plan designed to reduce reliance on reserves remains on target.
In addition to higher than expected income tax receipts, spending on employment-related welfare support has been significantly lower than anticipated, as a result of continued low unemployment and business growth. A total of 439 new taxpayers have been added to the workforce during the past year, while 73 employers have registered with the Income Tax Division.
Referencing the 'family heartbeat' of the Isle of Man, support for working families was a prominent theme as the Treasury Minister made a number of key announcements.
Personal tax allowance will rise for the third year in a row, to £14,000. This will mean more than 1,550 people will be lifted out of the income tax net. The cost of the measures will be £6.2m and maintains the current administration's commitment to support hardworking families.
Above inflation increases are also applied to Child Benefit, Employed Persons' Allowance, Maternity Payments and Disability Premiums.
A total of £1.5m has been ring-fenced while proposals to help parents supporting children in higher education are brought forward.
Significant investment will be committed to improving roads around the Island and developing our telecommunications infrastructure. These form part of a £479 million programme of capital funding to take place over the next five years, aimed at delivering focussed investment for the benefit of the Island and its residents.
Addressing the needs of business, Mr Cannan announced a National Insurance Holiday Scheme designed to attract workers, support firms aiming to recruit employees and increase the working population - a key objective of the current administration.
Business will also be boosted by £6m for related support schemes and a commitment to provide £1.5m for additional resources to ensure the Island remains compliant with international standards, preserving its reputation as a responsible jurisdiction.
Frontline public services will benefit from an additional £12m, including £2.5m to be used to support policing in the community.
Mr Cannan said:
'The safety and security that we enjoy are precious, but we must not take them for granted. Neighbourhood policing will be redesigned and modernised, with extra officers being provided to tackle offending and anti-social behaviour across the Island. It will also provide more effective support to vulnerable people.'
This year's Budget recognises that the forthcoming Independent Review into the Isle of Man Health and Social Care System could result in significant changes when Tynwald considers the report later this year and up to £5m has been made available for healthcare transformation.