Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer has agreed to hold talks with MHKs who are concerned that some tenants are struggling to make ends meet because their income is limited.
The issue was raised in the House of Keys last week by Rob Callister (Onchan) when he asked Mr Harmer what he would do about tenants in social housing who end up paying more than 30% of their income on rent.
Mr Callister declared an interest in that a family member in that situation but he said he had other constituents who were affected. The old age pension normally amounted to about £176 per week, he said, but the cheapest rent he had seen in Onchan was £71.53, including rates, for a flat.
He asked Mr Harmer what his department was doing to ’actually give some respite to payments to these tenants who are actually paying well in excess of 30%?’
Mr Harmer said it was incumbent on a tenant to approach a landlord if they were encountering difficulties. Public sector landlords could advise a tenant on the benefits available.
He offered to work with Mr Callister and also liaise with other departments on any specific cases.
’There are 1,500 tenants who receive income support and 650 receive a 70% employed person’s allowance,’ said Mr Harmer.
’It is difficult to unpick all the benefits right here, but I am very welcome to working with the member to look at those specific cases and see what policies can be derived from there.’
In a separate question, Policy and Reform Minister Chris Thomas was asked to give an update on government plans to modernise its rates system.
Lawrie Hooper (LibVannin, Ramsey) said the government had given an undertaking to have proposals ready by October last year.
’We have gone from a Programme for Government, which committed to having a full plan set out by October, to the beginnings of a Council of Ministers workshop in the next four weeks and a rates officer working group,’ said Mr Hooper.
’I am becoming increasingly concerned at the slipping that is happening with this project.
’It is big, it is huge. When will CoMin be making a decision and when will the public consultation start on the current proposals for rates modernisation, not the proposals the previous administration had?’
Mr Thomas said it was a ’massive project’.
He added: ’It has been on and off ever since 1969 when the rates were last revalued. We have made substantial progress.
’This government is not going to carry out the policy of the last administration. The Council of Ministers has a set of policies that were agreed in 2013. Those need to be revisited.;
He said ’good work’ was being made on preparing the legislation and preparing the whole project.
’It involves software, it involves changing the law, it involves, in some sense, revisiting how we do a property tax, it involves rebates.’
He said the situation was ’ongoing’.
’In other words, each of the projects have been started and I would not be at all surprised if [Tynwald] would be hearing more about this in May or June.’