Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan MHK has announced a raft of emergency packages designed to support businesses and workers, and protect the Island’s economy from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The measures have been established following engagement and collaboration with the business sector by the Treasury and the Department for Enterprise.
Minister Cannan said:
‘As this crisis has escalated it has become increasingly clear that we need to do more, much more to help everyone across this Island nation in our fight against this lethal virus.
‘All of us have a role to play - Government, Businesses and Individuals, all of us are impacted. Every action that we take is critical, every decision that we make vital and my role is now to equip you all, as much as I can, with the financial tools to take the right decisions and to provide the safety net in your hour of need.
‘In order to do that I have taken the considered decision to commit substantial sums of money from our reserves in order to bring forward the most comprehensive package of support I reasonably can.
‘But I must be straight with you. The measures that I am about to announce, although substantial, will not protect every business, save every job.
‘Government alone cannot win this fight. As an Island nation we have limited physical and economic resources but what we do have is speed of thought and action, flexibility and an ingrained proven determination to succeed.'
Two core packages will be introduced to support businesses and protect workers:
- COVID-19 Wage Support Scheme: To help viable businesses retain their staff, a 12-week wage support package is available that will provide businesses with a flat rate contribution of £280 per week for every full-time equivalent staff member and pro-rata for part-time employees. This will encourage the employer to retain the employee, topping up their wages further where possible.
- COVID-19 Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance: This will provide an income of £200 per week to people who have been temporarily or permanently laid off, or lost their self-employed work, since 2 March 2020. It will be available to both displaced employees, where the employer is unable to retain them under the Wage Support Scheme, and the self-employed. It will be payable for up to a maximum of 13 weeks and is designed as a temporary safety net for displaced workers. After the 13 weeks, they can either return to their former employment, find alternative employment or ultimately migrate on to standard welfare support if unable to secure employment beyond this period.
Additional measures will support affected businesses, including:
- The extension of the existing £3,000 grant to include the self-employed in relevant sectors and certain retail businesses
- Working with banks to provide a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Guarantee Scheme
- Providing businesses with the ability to defer VAT payments due between now and the end of June
- The introduction of various fund and grant schemes by the Department for Enterprise
- Suspending the work permit requirement for existing on-island workers
Minister Cannan confirmed discussions had taken place with key utility providers and that Manx Utilities, Manx Telecom and Manx Gas have all indicated a willingness to consider support for anyone affected.
‘In order for us to overcome the economic and fiscal challenge this virus presents, each and every one of us has a responsibility.
‘And this responsibility means that those of you that have done well over the years, that have built success and security, that have successful, profitable businesses or have built substantial wealth that will enable you to sustain short term cash flow problems - now is the time for you to stand by your Island and your staff.
‘I cannot emphasise enough to you now that this is a whole Island effort. Now it is the turn of all of us across this nation to play our part and I know that across the community huge numbers of you are engaged and willing.
‘Today I have brought forward £100m of direct support that we need to join this fight across the economy.
‘Now we must think, act and work together as an island nation to overcome this unseen enemy.’
Full details on how to access support through any of the measures announced today will be available at www.gov.im/treasury as soon as possible. Anyone wishing to apply for support is asked to be patient as the recently agreed measures represent a significant challenge to introduce in a short time.
Due to the new measures, a sick pay scheme introduced last week for people who need to self-isolate has been withdrawn.
Click the Coronavirus Support Package for detailed descriptions of the measures included in today's announcement.