With the second report from the Select Committee of Tynwald on Poverty, we now have factual and detailed analysis of the situation many people are placed in. The report is an unwavering exposé of inequality. The authors highlight:

* The lack of policy basis for benefits – focus is not upon what people need to live, but what can be afforded;

* That this administration has ‘prevented’ debate around this issue;

* The complexity of the benefits system, which appears to be deliberate;

* The stigma that benefit claimants suffer under;

And states very clearly that certain benefits – JSA and Income Support – are simply not enough to live on, with EPA often falling short in the case of single claimants and, disturbingly, “exhibiting something of a moral judgement.”

It is a sticking point for us that the authors all voted in favour of Alfred Cannan’s changes to EPA in May 2019, which target the working poor, which were not evidence-based proposals and which will make life harder for already-squeezed families. Perhaps they now regret their vote in this debate – but Tynwald members must realise that actions have consequences and the findings of this report have come from the way members have voted over many years.

Amongst the report’s many recommendations, which we urge you to read through, it advocates for: the minimum wage to transition to the living wage within 5 years; free school meals provision to be extended in a discretionary manner; and for free travel to be included for those on income-related benefits. The Manx Labour Party not only agrees with all recommendations, but has been advocating for many of them for years. 

As our manifesto states “All policy should be evidence-based and built around global best practice. This is the only way we can ensure that we are moving forwards in line with our current understanding about what works.” The Select Committee’s report really highlights the importance of this ethos.

The findings in this report go right to the heart of our way of life. Poverty, mental health, wellbeing, housing, education, crime, taxation: all these issues are linked. 

Instead of continually asking people advocating for better services that improve quality of life “How will you fund it?” we should be asking candidates who wish to reduce taxation: “How will you plug the public services deficit? How will you offset the drop in quality of life your proposals will bring?” And ultimately, “How will you pay for the impact on life outcomes of what you propose?” Because it is clear from evidence-based research that it is cheaper and far more efficient to spend on improving people’s lives now, resulting in better life outcomes, than it is to deal with the poorer life outcomes that result from hardship and poverty.

This report is a powerful statement on the state of our benefit system and society overall.

We are much better than this. We urge you to stand with your community and say “no more” to the pursuit of a gradual erosion of our welfare state system. For too long, governments have pitted people against each other, when actually we all stand together in support of each other, we want the best for our communities and we are willing to stand up for that! 🇮🇲🇮🇲

#letsworktogether #movingforward #equalityandfairness