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Chris Robertshaw

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Everything posted by Chris Robertshaw

  1. On the recent Manx Forum topic about the Douglas East by election I mentioned that as soon as I could make available both Kate Beecroft's speech for party politics and mine against party politics I would come back here. The PAG have now put them both up on their website positiveactiongroup.org. By clicking on 'party politics debate' at the top right hand corner of their home page you will find Kate's speech first and then mine. It should be pointed out that we were both allowed only eight minutes each to speak so that influenced the degree of detail we were both able to go into. Many thanks to the PAG for doing this.
  2. Fair question - I have asked PAG if they will put both my JCC speech against party politics and Kate's JCC speech for party politics up on their website so you can consider both sides of the argument. They have agreed - but It wont happen straight away. As soon as it does I will tell you.
  3. quilp - There are limitations to what information can or cannot be used for means testing and we are working our way through this. For example - the vires already exists to use tax based data when cross checking a parent(s) level of entitlement to child benefit but more work must be done in other areas to achieve the necessary level of access. Means testing as a concept must be kept as simple as possible. At the moment each area under consideration for means testing is being considered on its merits in order to achieve the highest possible level of sensitivity with regard to the action being taken (both to the individual contributor and the broader impact of the cumulative effect of means testing on an individual and/or family) but the ultimate aim must be to progressively move towards a single broader framework for means testing. This is a major departure for government and must be done as carefully as possible.
  4. A deficiency cannot be seen as a measure of a housing authority's efficiency or otherwise - rather it is the degree to which central government (taxpayers funds) bridge the annual gap in funding between the rents received and the actual annual cost resulting from new build for any given housing authority. Thus the more new build a housing authority has carried out - the larger their deficiency is likely to be - with the converse also applying. The move towards higher rents is designed to stabilise that level of deficiency as the programme for new build or substantial refurbishment continues. The current total deficiency level is circa £6m. per annum. Had we not acted on rents the total deficiency level was predicted to rise over the coming years (when taking into account the projected investment programme) to £17m per annum which quite obviously would have been totally unsustainable. There is no intention to stop investing in social housing as we are still playing catch up on the investment programme. Also, for many years, social housing rents levels were supressed which is why the current readjustment is difficult. So - the deficiency level is a mark of the more recent investment a housing authority has put into new build which in turn is as good indicator of the age of the housing stock needing replacement in their particular area - not as might be suggested by one contributor- a guide to their efficiency. To be fair, historically, it is the housing authorities that have been pushing for sustainable rent increases and central government, in the times of plenty, that resisted for what ever reason. I have also been criticised for raising rents before introducing means testing - I accept this but it would not have been possible to introduce this any quicker than is planned (April 2015) but neither would it have been possible to leave rents so artificially low until means testing is introduced as the sudden overnight hike at that point would have been totally untenable. Means testing will provide the opportunity to identify both those on very low incomes but who are outside the benefits system as well as those on much higher incomes - and adjust rents accordingly within the means testing framework. Again, contrary to what another contributor here has suggested - the rent comparisons between the private rental sector and public sector housing provided by my department were fair. The observation made (by the same contributor) about rates being excluded was not relevant.
  5. I have every intention of joining the debate on here at the same time as taking it out to the general public through public meetings, putting the information on line and engaging in radio programmes and through newspaper articles etc. This will happen next year once my department, the treasury and our consultants have pulled together a set of options for people to consider.
  6. I absolutely do not share the many assumptions you have made here.
  7. Which part of 'Tynwald already has sufficient legislation that is not being policed effectively on at least 4% of uninhabitable properties on the island' do you not understand Chris? Come on...we thought you were better than this. You needed to get out of the office and talk to these landlords before you came up with this plan. You are making few friends in terms of tenants or landlords. The effective result is nothing but a tax take for the government purse at the expense of both - whilst we are still left with a bloated government, even more of which will be required to admin this latest scheme. Sorry - It is you that does not understand - if what you are suggesting is true then I would not be going to the trouble of introducing a system of registration through new legislation (I went through this matter carefully before embarking on the chosen route). Your real anger comes from the fact that you believe government should be smaller and on that we agree. With our small tax base I do not believe we have any alternative but to work towards a smaller more efficient government. What about the basic Housing Act? Has that been enforced in any of these places? I can assure you that if there was an effective way of dealing with the issues through the use of existing legislation - then I would have used it.
  8. That is the main reason for introducing the legislation - to help deal with this issue - I am sorry I have not made myself clear
  9. Which part of 'Tynwald already has sufficient legislation that is not being policed effectively on at least 4% of uninhabitable properties on the island' do you not understand Chris? Come on...we thought you were better than this. You needed to get out of the office and talk to these landlords before you came up with this plan. You are making few friends in terms of tenants or landlords. The effective result is nothing but a tax take for the government purse at the expense of both - whilst we are still left with a bloated government, even more of which will be required to admin this latest scheme. Sorry - It is you that does not understand - if what you are suggesting is true then I would not be going to the trouble of introducing a system of registration through new legislation (I went through this matter carefully before embarking on the chosen route). Your real anger comes from the fact that you believe government should be smaller and on that we agree. With our small tax base I do not believe we have any alternative but to work towards a smaller more efficient government.
  10. Because the market is on its arse and there are lots of reluctant landlords out there just struggling to survive. Some have had to let houses they can't sell because the market is so bad, some have left the Island as they can't get work and they can't sell up either, and some thought buy to let was a great idea 5 years ago and are geared up to their arses and have the banks on their backs and a shortage of tenants. None of these people can afford the extra costs and the extra hassle as they probably aren't making a penny on their lets because of the circumstances they are in. So right when things are bad, here comes a load of stupid rules to kick them in the nuts with. It won't stop the really bad abusers, and it won't impact on the rental empire of the Islands 'favourite' property developer. It will just take even more margin out of those who are only renting because they can't sell, putting them in a worse position. If you have a problem with 4% of landlords you don't fix it by imposing new rules on 100% of them in times of economic hardship. Thank you for explaining the reasoning behind your views expressed earlier. The 'stupid rules' your refer to are things that landlords should already be complying with now. The proposals consolidate them all in one place. The proposed legislation is designed to deal with those working below basic decency standards and I am confident it will do so. The extra cost you talk about is a registration fee once every three years and is modest.
  11. hboy If the current legislation worked then there would be no need to bring in any new legislation. You say the new legislation will be overbearing - in what way do you think that will be the case? Chris
  12. Amadeus, I extended the landlord and tenant (private housing) bill consultation because there appeared to be a lot of misunderstandings about it and I thought extra time would help people to both understand it better and provide more time for the submission of views to the consultation. I also encouraged landlords to set up their own association so that they could better represent their interests in matters such as legislation. This legislation is all about achieving basic minimum standards of decency above which most landlords already operate. Sadly there are some who do not. The last survey conducted indicated that between three and four percent of properties are not fit for human habitation. There are about 7000 properties on the Isle of Man in the private rental market.
  13. Good morning Gladys I reported the following to the radio - there are a total of around 6000 public sector houses and with approx. 10% turnover per annum, this would provide around 600 agreements per year - so - same percentages but different numbers.
  14. In reply to Manshimajin I have said many times in public that I was angry with the previous administration for not 'getting a grip' when they must have known they should have done. Turning to your point about me acting in isolation. Again I have said that modernising social policy to make it fit for purpose is one of a number of actions that will need to be taken. The last time I said this was in my July 2012 www.manx.net/tv interview with Paul Moulton (it is in two parts). It will take a number of core projects to overcome our current account imbalance and these will have to compliment each other and will only succeed if they are seen to be fair and balanced.
  15. Those subject to the reciprocal agreement a. national Insurance benefits retirement pension, old persons pension, bereavement pension, widows pension (preserved rights), guardians allowance, maternity allowance, incapacity benefit, industrial disablement benefit, industrial death benefit, contribution based jobseekers allowance b. non contributary benefits child benefit, severe disablement allowance, carers allowance, disability living allowance Those benefits not subject to the reciprocal agreement a. national insurance benefits christmas bonus, funeral payments, adoption allowance, paternity allowance b. income related benefits and other payments income support, income based jobseekers allowance, employed person allowance, maternity payments, additional funderal payment, winter bonus, additional winter bonus c. Isle of Man statutory schemes Nursing care contribution, TV license refund scheme, retirment pension premium, pension supplement.
  16. in reply to homarus Although unemployment has not risen markedly in recent months (and does not normally do so in the summer months) the topline figure hides a worrying underlying trend. Namely the number of young unemployed who have been so for more than six months and , again, for more than twelve months. The levels have risen significantly. The longer a young person remains out of work the more difficult it is to get them back into work and the more damage it does to the individual. In response I am looking at trying to create decent employment schemes and experiences with 3rd sector partners, local authorities and government departments in order to provide these young people with progressive ways back to the job market. This would also help to identify those who, when offered such opportunities, did not wish to respond in a positive manner - it would then be possible to apply sanctions to encourage them towards greater personal responsibility. It is not really possible to discuss this subject without also recognising that the minimum rate of pay in recent years has not kept pace with either nflation or, in general terms, the rate of increase in benefits. This encourages distortions.
  17. in reply to GD4ELI Thanks for you comments - they are appreciated
  18. in reply to VinnieK To some extent I agree with your first comment, so to be more specific: some high dependency groups are indeed growing whilst others are subject to better detection. This though does not in any way diminish the fundamental point being made which is to highlight why,in part,(and it is only one element)costs are increasing to the extent that they are. With regard to your second point. It would be perfectly possible to expand the graph to show the anticipated change in age profile of our population at regular intervals during the next 30 years. What cannot be desputed is that very significant changes are underway and we must respond to them as there are considerable cost implications to these changes. Turning to your next point(why Social Care and Health have been highlighted). This has been done for very good reason and I am very happy to support this with further numbers and will place more detail to that effect under this topic heading as soon as I can. I am not hiding at all from naming any other departments.
  19. in reply to bishbashbosh The intention behind highlighting 68 individuals who have care costs exceeding £100K each per year was simply to point out the cost of specialist care and that these cost areas are growing and are expected to continue to do so. The point being that if we can no longer rely on ever growing income into government to cover these costs then we will have to think again about how else the money for these services might be found. On your second point about mental health - of course I agree with your comment that not all with mental health conditions are necessarily highly dependent. Just as in other areas there is a broad spectrum of need and only some will fall into the highly dependent category.
  20. Well certainly not with this version anyway! - if you would like to read the real version please go to gov.im and click through to social care's website - you will find the document link at the top of our home page. Thanks
  21. I doubt we'll see much of Chris Robertshaw here on MF now he's got a Ministerial position. Although heading up Social Services would now be an excellent opportunity for him to start talking about a joined up, integrated transport network with trams and trolley buses and stuff, you know going round everywhere and linking up on the prom and that. I hope it does not mean that you will not hear from me as time goes by and once I am properly up to speed in the new post. With a Freedom of Information Act promised and the likes of Manx Forums allowing regular public exchange with politicians I would expect the future is going to be more immediate, less formal and certainly more uncomfortable compared with what has been the case in the past. I have often said that the gap between the Government and the electorate (not between constituency MHKs and their constituents) is too great so there will have to be changes.
  22. You have asked me for a short answer. Because of the way our system works - to actually promise to do something in a manifesto would be to lie so the words used are correct even if extremely frustrating (thats why I, like others, want to change the system so that you can vote for a policy direction and thereafter have some confidence it should happen). There will have to be a significant mindset change in the House of Keys if the sort of thing I propose in my manifesto is going to happen but I believe this mindset change will be forced on it as a result of the economic and budgetary circumstances as they unfold and as reality dawns. I went into some detail so that if you do decide to send me back I will have the votes behind me to push hard. To pick out two big issues - we have too many departments of government (too top heavy) and our model for economic growth is old fashioned. Both of these MUST CHANGE.
  23. I dont think it will. The point I was making was in answer to 'censorship' who was suggesting that I was complaining about my coverage - which I was not. I very much hope that the introduction of the independent scrutiny committees will provide more comment outside of the government's position on any given issue but with only one newspaper and one subsidized radio news and current affairs service and no TV the problem remains. The saving grace must be that a freedom of information act combined with the universality of the internet will make it much more difficult to manage spin in the future. This of course will be subject to how our Freedom of Information Act actually works.
  24. With reference to the above post I can only say...I am sorry but I consider this a piece of rather blatant electioneering days before people go to the polls. Of course I am electioneering - I am suppose to as I am standing for election! The key word though is blatant. Bill and Adrian are fully entitled to their opinions and to express them and I respect that but to use their government offices in the way they did days before the election is, as I said, blatant and wrong. As far as your other comment is concerned about unfair treatment by Manx Radio the answer has to be a definite no. I know I have been treated in fair way by Manx Radio and I think they have provided pretty good coverage of the election. My point though about an occasional lack of balance when reporting routine issues in the Keys relates to the tendency sometimes to overstress the government line. With almost every MHK/MLC in government perhaps this is not surprising and you will recall that I said I hoped the introduction of standing select committees will help to redress the balance.
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