Following a report by the Tynwald Select Committee on Population Rebalancing, Government has indicated backing for a further range of financial packages aimed at making it easier to raise a family in the Isle of Man.
Treasury has committed to keeping maternity, adoption, and paternity allowance under review, following an uplift this year, as well as an assessment of the eligibility criteria to ensure that these measures correspond to the delivery of the Economic Strategy and Our Island Plan.
The Isle of Man Government has also committed to consideration of the following:
- Extending the Pre-School Credit Scheme to start from age 1. This is currently only available for children in the year prior to beginning formal primary education. This extension would make childcare and early years education more affordable and potentially support parents returning to the workplace sooner
- Establishing Child Benefit at the same financial rate as the first child, for second and subsequent children
- Introducing Best Start Child Milestone Payments to families at key stages of a child’s development
The Treasury will consider these proposals following the Tynwald resolutions and report to the Council of Ministers for final approval before they are introduced.
Although a number of new financial policy proposals were agreed by Tynwald in June, efforts to enhance the Island’s attractiveness to young people and as a great place to raise a family are already underway as part of the Island Plan and Government’s progress was recognised in the debate.
Changes to employment law are already under way with a Bill introduced to the House of Keys to bring in shared parental leave and the right to time off for partners for antenatal appointments, as well as leave for adoption appointments and parental bereavement.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Kate Lord-Brennan MHK, said:
‘The Isle of Man is a wonderful, safe and nurturing place to bring up children, but there are indications that we need to take steps to make the prospect of raising a family on the Island easier, or ease some of the challenges. That is why the Council of Ministers has supported a number of key proposals at the June Tynwald sitting.
‘The Committee’s report and assessment were welcome and served to further highlight and explain the nature of the demographic challenges facing the Island and allow Tynwald to come to consensus as to policy interventions which could make a real difference to growing families in particular. Other policy issues identified by the committee as being relevant to population challenges are already recognised in the Island Plan, with work underway as to the Childcare Strategy, an emphasis on improving the built environment and vibrancy of the Island and key changes to employment law.
‘There is further work to do and funding to be identified, but this is a significant step forward for our Island and for family friendly policies.’
Chair of the Select Committee, Dr Michelle Haywood MHK, said:
'The Island is often appreciated as a remarkably safe environment for children to grow up in. We recognised that for many people contemplating starting or expanding their family, the economic challenges were considerable. These changes hopefully show that government in intent on creating a remarkably supportive environment for young families.'
The report identified three key areas of population imbalance:
- The Island’s birth rate dropped by 35% between 2010 and 2020 with the number of births in 2022 the lowest for 105 years
- A high proportion of 18 to 25 year olds are leaving the Island
- The number of residents aged 55 and above is increasing
Demographic challenges affect nations all around the world. The challenges of ageing and declining populations and declining birth rates are facing policymakers in many countries.