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Additional £5.6m targeted support as living costs remain high

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More than 19,000 people are set to benefit next month from targeted support totalling £5.6m aimed at protecting the vulnerable from the rising cost of living.

A second round of the Long Term Benefits Support Payment will be paid in February, and follows the first round in June 2022.

It is payable to people who did not receive an Energy Support Payment but are in receipt of certain long-term benefits and pensions.

Pensioners living at home and in receipt of an Isle of Man state pension will automatically receive the payment, along with people who are long-term sick, disabled adults, carers and the recently bereaved.

In a bid to reach people who have not qualified for any support so far, an application process is open for pensioners who do not receive a state pension from the Isle of Man Government and veterans in receipt of a War Pensions Mobility Supplement.

These groups will not be paid the LTBSP automatically unless they receive another qualifying benefit, for example Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance. They should get in touch with Social Security to request an application form by emailing or telephoning +44 1624 685098.

Announcing the latest payment during his December Financial Statement in Tynwald, Treasury Minister Dr Alex Allinson MHK said:

‘The Energy Support Payments and Family Support Payments have been targeted at those with the lowest levels of income and who our modelling shows are most affected by fuel and food price rises.

‘I am, of course, conscious that other sectors of our society will be feeling financial pressure this winter so I am working with Treasury officers to repeat the Long Term Benefit Support Payment, which will directly benefit all pensioners, those with disabilities and those on other long term support.

‘The support provided so far has been to enable those most affected by increases in the cost of living to manage the transition through the current inflationary pressures. I cannot stress enough that the Treasury cannot continue to provide financial support at this level — we all have to adapt.’

The full proposals will be put to the January sitting of Tynwald for approval.

The payment marks the continuation of a committed programme of support which took place throughout 2022 and totalled £12 million, focusing largely on Energy Support Payments and Family Support Payments.

Three rounds of Energy Support Payments were paid, in April, October and December. Up to 3,500 households benefited from these £300 payments, made to people who receive an income-related benefit, such as income support, income based jobseeker’s allowance or employed person’s allowance, and who are responsible for paying housing costs or can be treated as such.

Three rounds of Family Support Payments were also paid, in May, November and December. Worth up to £400 each – depending on family size – they were paid to people who receive child benefit, and reached more than 6,000 families.

Throughout 2022, support was also provided through:

  • Winter Bonus
  • Variable Rate Winter Bonus
  • Additional Winter Bonus
  • Additional Variable Rate Winter Bonus
  • Long Term Benefits Support Payment

In addition to direct payments, further measures have been put in place to shield Islanders from rising costs.

In August 2022, the Council of Ministers directed Manx Utilities to freeze all electricity prices at current levels until 31 March 2023. For those on the domestic and commercial tariffs this means electricity will remain at 22 pence per unit into spring 2023. The daily standing charge for a connection to the grid has also been frozen at its current rate.

The electricity price freeze is being funded with a Government loan to Manx Utilities of up to £26 million which will be repaid over a 20-year period.

Last month more than 25 public sector telephone numbers relating to health, housing and finance were made free to call as part of a further initiative funded by Government to help the community with the rising costs.

A three-month trial of capping bus fares at a maximum of £2 per journey is taking place (November-January). As well as reducing transport costs, the move is designed to incentivise people to leave their cars at home and switch to public transport, helping to reduce carbon emissions on the Island’s roads.