This week the Manx Government published its Coronavirus Household Survey (July 2020), which was an anonymous snapshot survey from around 606 households across the island.
The purpose of the survey was to investigate how individuals and households have responded to both the economic impact of the pandemic and the measures taken by the Manx Government and Employers in their response. I enclose a link to the survey report, which makes very interesting reading.
From those responding, around 59% felt their financial situation has stayed the same and around 17% felt that their financial situation had actually improved, which is a very interesting finding. However, as the report highlights, this leaves around 23% saying that their financial situation has changed for the worse. This is a serious concern especially when around 10% of the respondents say that they are now running into significant debt as a result of the pandemic.
In response to a question on household income almost 66% felt that their household finances would decrease over the next three months. The report also highlights the growing split in our society when almost 54% of the respondents felt that they would still be able to save money over the next three months.
The report might only be a ‘snapshot’, but it is still a great insight into people’s households and their financial situation during the Covid-19 lockdown, especially when the Isle of Man Government eases some of those restrictions, along with the support levels.
In other news this week, the House of Keys is now back to 24 publicly elected members after the South Douglas By-Election on Thursday evening, although the actual declaration wasn’t formally made until around 23.30.
Independent candidate Claire Christian topped the poll with 930 votes, but there were two re-counts before Paul Quine was also eventually elected with 469 votes. The LibVan candidate, Michael Josem finished 3rd with 463 votes, which is just seven votes short of being elected to the House of Keys.
As for the other candidates, the Green Party candidate, Andrew Jessopp (342 votes), Pamela Birnie-Malarkey (337 votes), Anthony Allen (264 votes), David Fowler (139 votes), Kevin Oliphant Smith (132 votes), Ian James Clanton (115 votes) and Lon Pinkerton (84 votes)
With just over 12 months to the House of Keys General Elections both newly elected MHK’s will have to hit the ground running if they are going to make any impact on behalf of their Constituents, and I certainly wish them well….
As for the remaining candidates I can see a few of them standing in the General Election, but possibly in other constituencies.
As for my own activities this week, not much to report for last weekend. I was able to take some time off, but I did spend a few hours going through the DOI agenda pack. Once again the island appears to be going through one of those extreme weather patterns with a single day of sunshine, followed by heavy rain for 40 days and 40 nights…..
Anyway, I was back in the office before 8am on Monday and the first job was to finish off any notes and papers relating to the DOI meeting later on in the day. I also needed to catch up with a few other jobs in the office before the day really got underway.
Just before 10am I headed back into Onchan to attend the Springfield coffee morning for the first time since March this year. It was great to catch up with some of the residents, many of whom have been self-isolating for many months.
Good topics of discussion as always and it was good to ask them directly how Covid-19 had affected them personally.
Straight back to the office for 11.15am and into a meeting with two ladies that wanted to talk about safeguarding children against offenders who sexually abuse them. An extremely difficult and emotive topic to discuss, but still a very interesting meeting. I think during the 90 minute meeting we certainly put the world to rights as we discussed various other related topics.
As I mentioned to the ladies during the meeting, the Department of Home Affairs are currently working on a few projects around safeguarding and offenders, and I know some legislation will be going through the House of Keys and Legislative Council shortly. So hopefully some changes are on the horizon but it isn’t as easy as it first appears, especially in a population of around 84,000, but I will be watching this one over the next 12 months.
There was also a protest on this particular topic outside the Court House on Friday lunchtime, but unfortunately I already had something in the calendar.
From there it was down to the Sea Terminal for the political meeting between the Minister and DOI Members before the Department meeting that got underway at 14.00. This particular meeting focused on Transport Services and the Ports Division before the Executive and Divisional briefings.
A very long meeting, which didn’t actually finish until around 17.30 but some excellent discussions around the table on Finance, EfW Plant, Housing and Legislation etc.
Just time to call into the office before getting home for around 18.00. After tea I still needed to return a number of calls and emails before finishing at around 20.30.
As for Tuesday, I was planning to stay at home but with the weather so bad I decided to go into the office just before 8am, in order to go through the DfE and the Isle of Man Visit Agency agenda packs that took a couple of hours or so.
The rest of the morning was taken up with going through various government reports and the afternoon was spent drafting a couple of letter templates, along with working on a couple of speeches.
Certainly not the toughest day in the job but I was able to catch up with so many things in the office this week, that I was able to finish before 17.00.
On Tuesday evening thousands of homes and businesses across the island started to lose their broadband as Manx Telecom engineers tried desperately to fix a serious problem. Personally, we weren’t actually affected until Wednesday morning and it is very strange not being able to do your usual routine, which for me is to read the local news, national news and emails etc.
As a society I am not entirely sure that we could survive without broadband anymore, because it does keep the world at our fingertips. Despite the internet issues I still went into office on Wednesday morning and just after 9am I headed over to DfE for the Minister and Political Members meeting before the Department meeting, which started with an update from the Head of Tourism, Angela Byrne.
The rest of the board meeting was relatively quick and I was back in the office for around 11.30am. This gave me a perfect opportunity to start drafting some letters relating to some ongoing parking concerns in Onchan, which I didn’t think I would get around to until next week.
On Wednesday afternoon I was meant to chair a meeting between two motorsport groups that are in dispute over various things at the moment, but once comments started appearing on social media and in the local press this week I had little option but to cancel the meeting.
I certainly hope these two groups can resolve their differences for the good of motorsport on the island. As for the rest of the afternoon, I had a couple of smaller meetings but I was able to spend the rest of the day in the office.
It is definitely one of those rare periods in which I actually feel I am top of everything.
The Manx Telecom broadband issues were finally resolved on Wednesday evening, but it is very strange not to have access to the internet for a long period of time.
A normal start on Thursday in order to go through the Isle of Man Visit Agency agenda pack before walking over to DfE just after 9am for the actual meeting. A busy meeting with a lot of discussion on the situation facing the serviced and non-serviced accommodation sectors at the moment.
I was back into the office at lunchtime, in order to log into a virtual meeting with KPMG and Hotel Solutions that are assisting Treasury and DfE as we explore the options available to support the tourism sector, not just over the winter months, but also as we try to kickstart the industry as quickly as possible.
Other than a couple of Constituent issues, the rest of the day was spent in the office until around 17.15. On Thursday evening I was able to catch up with a couple of friends at the new “Cue Zone”, which is located at Barrule House, Ronaldsway Industrial Estate, Ballasalla.
The club has 7 full size snooker tables and 4 IPA pool tables, along with a few training tables for younger players, and the club is run by ex-professional snooker player Daryl Hill.
Our game of choice on Thursday was “Nine-ball”, which has heavier balls and is played on an American pool table.
Friday was the start of the “Super Manx Bank Holiday”, which replaced Senior Race Day after this year’s TT was cancelled. A slow start to the day as the weather on the Isle of Man continued to be hit by continuous rain and strong wind.
At around 10.30am Ellen and I headed to St. George’s Church for a National Service of Reflection for those 24 island residents that lost their lives to Covid-19, but also to pay tribute to the thousands of workers that continue to keep this island safe.
The address given by the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man was perfect for the occasion and it certainly made us reflect on the events and challenges that this island has faced over the past six months.
Personally, I could listen to the Lord Bishop all day, especially in Tynwald when his contribution to very difficult debates or topics are perfectly measured and to the point.
I think it is also the first occasion in which I have been able to reflect on everything that has happened over the past few months, but so much more work will have to be done over the next six months in order to restore the employment opportunities and the visitor numbers taking a break on the Isle of Man in 2021/22.
We got home early afternoon, so I was able to take the rest of the day off. On Friday evening Ellen and I went to see “Calendar Girls”, which was on at the Gaiety Theatre.
After what felt like an eternity, it was great to be able to support local productions and theatre groups once again, and to see the Gaiety full once more.
Not knowing what to expect this evening, I didn’t realise how powerful the unfolding story was, but it was delivered so beautifully. Congratulations to everyone involved in Calendar Girls.
Before ending, the Isle of Man also reached a milestone on Friday in which we recorded 100 days since the last new case of Covid-19 on the island.
As for the weekend, not sure what my schedule will be – a lot will depend on the weather forecast.