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£100 million support package approved by Tynwald

Treasury minister warns of economic collapse

The treasury minister has warned the Island's domestic economy is in danger of collapsing under the burden of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alfred Cannan's comments came as Tynwald approved more than £100-million-worth of financial support to businesses and taxpayers through the pandemic.

The sum will be taken from the £850 million National Insurance Fund, and is expected to last twelve weeks, after which further cash is required. 

Mr Cannan admits the package of measures won't be enough to save all businesses and jobs. 

Rushen MHK Juan Watterson says he was shocked to see a motion for a "blank cheque", with no upper limit placed on the financial motion.

Whilst he acknowledged the importance of the support, he was disappointed about a lack of communication over some of the fine detail. 

Ayre & Michael MHK Tim Baker praised the treasury minister's economic response as "quick and considered".

Mr Cannan's support package includes a new social security benefit of £200 a week, know as the Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance or MERA, will come into effect on 6 April, and will last until 29 June.

It's to offer time-limited financial support for those who've lost jobs, or are self-employed and can't continue working due to issues connected to Covid-19.

For every 1,000 people who are awarded MERA for the maximum period of 12 weeks, it will cost £2.4 million.

A salary support scheme will offer qualifying businesses £280 per full time equivalent employee, per week, for up to 12 weeks.

The first financial assistance payment can be claimed from the end of March. 

Treasury also intends to underwrite 80% of debt on £60m of new lending by commercial banks.

A coronavirus business support scheme, offering up to £3,000 in grants and loans, is available to businesses with more than two and fewer than 100 employees.