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Chief Minister concerned at unfounded statement by Age Concern on impact of energy prices 6 August 2008

Chief Minister Tony Brown MHK has today (August 6, 2008) expressed his deep concern with reported comments from the Chief Executive of Age Concern, Penny Creighton, that “people are going to die” due to increases in gas, electricity, oil and food prices.

The Chief Minister said:

“Such unfounded statements only serve to create unnecessary anxiety to many on low incomes, especially to our older people, when the real situation in the Isle of Man is much different.
“What is equally concerning is that these remarks were made without any acknowledgment of Government’s robust commitment to provide substantial additional financial support for all within our community on low incomes.
“Mrs Creighton is reported to have said that we should, as a community, look after our older people: the Isle of Man Government, with the support of Tynwald, takes the lead in this by making considerable provision to care for our older people, as well as others on lower incomes.
“In this year’s Government Budget, Tynwald approved an unprecedented £6.5 million package of support for those less well-off in our community, conscious of the likely increases this year would bring in energy and food costs. As part of this package, we have introduced an increased tax credit of £500 per person from April 2008 for every individual whose income during the tax year 2007/2008 was less than £8,850. That means that a married couple with an income for that year of less than £17,700 will automatically receive a payment from Government of £1,000 this year, this being well in excess of any likely increases that may be faced.
“The tax credit payment means that 10,000 people on low incomes within our community have directly benefited by between £80 and £500 each.” The Chief Minister said, “This payment is in excess of the anticipated average MEA increase of £67 per household. The Government is also ensuring that all public sector properties benefit from proper insulation and is supporting by grants the upgrading of private properties to reduce the amount of heating required, with estimated savings to residents in excess of a hundred pounds per property per annum.”
“This year’s Budget also provided an additional income tax allowance of £2,000 for pensioners, bringing the allowance for those over 65 years of age to £11,200”,

the Chief Minister added.

“More recently, I have also announced that we are giving active consideration to seeing what extra support we may need to give due to recent rising energy and food prices. Already the Office of Fair Trading has provided useful guidance on managing household fuel costs.
“There are many other areas of financial support that are available to those on low income from Government and I would urge anyone who has concerns to seek advice from the DHSS, or their relevant energy providers, to ensure that they receive appropriate advice and assistance.”

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