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DCCL continues efforts to meet budget targets 19 February 2013

Summary

  • A total of 12 managerial and admin posts have been removed saving £350,000 a year. At least 4 more posts will go in the coming financial year
  • Staffing costs have been reduced through revised terms and conditions, eg for casual staff and bus drivers (saving £300,000 a year)
  • Articulated buses on trial. Minibuses will also be trialled to reduce costs on less popular routes
  • Changes to concessionary arrangements for all services to be considered
  • Smarter ticketing system will reduce costs
  • Department reviewing options for more commercial or partnership approaches under Scope of Government
  • Services support quality of life, sport and culture but also the economy (railways economic contribution estimated at £11m a year)
  • NSC promotes health and wellbeing for general population and vulnerable groups, with successful schemes for cardiac patients, youth obesity, the disabled and elderly

Graham Cregeen MHK, Minister for Community, Culture and Leisure said:

‘The Department of Community Culture and Leisure provides important contributions to diversifying the Island’s economy, improving the quality of life and providing facilities for everyone in the Isle of Man to flourish in sport, arts and education. Whilst the Department operates in a commercial environment and strives to increase revenue in all its services, its primary aim is to enhance the quality of life for people in the Island. Unlike many areas of Government, the Department’s income relies almost totally on discretionary spend by customers in a price sensitive environment without protection from the broader economic climate. The small size of the Island and its population reduce the profit potential, making many of our services unattractive for private sector ownership. To continue to provide the Department’s services and facilities at the current level of quality, subsidies are a necessity.’

The Minister added:

‘For an Island population of 80,000, performance in the last 12 months has been impressive. Over 200,000 attendees have watched shows at the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre; the NSC has had around half a million attendances and the Curraghs Wildlife Park has welcomed over 40,000 visitors. Sports Development has coached our future sporting stars, Public Transport continues to provide a substantial all Island service and the Heritage Railways have attracted enthusiasts from around the world to our beautiful Island.’

The Minister concluded:

‘The Department has worked hard to protect front line services from cuts or significant changes in terms of pricing and delivery. However, this will be increasingly hard to achieve as revenue budgets fall. Savings targets require major changes to the way the Department operates its services. The Department must also consider changes to concession structures within all of its services. Whilst the Department can continue to reduce costs through adjustments and cuts, albeit at the expense of services, alone they will not achieve budget targets for future years. Some of the proposals in the Scope of Government report offer opportunities to achieve these targets without the complete loss of services and facilities. These could involve increasing commercialisation, corporatisation or partnerships with the private or third sectors. The Department is reviewing these options in line with the Chief Minister’s Agenda for Change and will make recommendations in due course.’

The Island’s three railways attract large numbers of tourists and are key to securing income from cruise visits. An independent report estimates that Isle of Man Railways contribution to the local economy is up to £11 million a year.

Despite the poorest summer weather on record, investment in attractions at the Curraghs Wildlife Park, along with an increase in public profile, has led to the highest visitor numbers since 2006. Much of the Department’s work focuses on vulnerable groups. The NSC provides a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of the population.

By working with the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Children, the facility is now being used for an increasing number of schemes to improve the lifestyle of key vulnerable groups with a view to reduce short and long terms costs to the National Health Service. Recent successes include schemes for cardiac patients, youth obesity, the disabled and the elderly. The quality and value of these services has allowed the Department to secure continued support from the private sector for Sports Development schemes.

The Department’s experience in providing customer facing services makes it the ideal lead for the Customer First initiative. The team delivering this work has already delivered significant improvements through centralised in person, telephone and online services.

It is working with other Departments to review services, improve standards and reduce costs. The work is still at an early stage but this will remain a key priority in future years. The Department is fully committed to the imperative of rebalancing the national budget by securing efficiencies and by maximising income potential.

As payroll costs account for over half of the Department’s gross expenditure and 84% of the net budget, efficiencies in staffing are essential to avoid reducing public services. A total of 12 managerial and administration posts have been removed to give an annual saving of around £350,000.

This includes the removal of four senior management posts as well as secretarial and administration support roles. In the next financial year, at least four more posts will be removed. The Department now has one of the most streamlined corporate units in Government.

Posts across the grade range have been removed in business units where this could be done without impacting on services; most notably in Public Transport but also in the NSC and the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre. Where possible, this has been achieved through natural wastage and voluntary severance. Unfortunately, compulsory redundancies and retirements have also been necessary.

The Department has also reduced staffing costs through the negotiation of revised staff terms and conditions. The removal of the Department’s casual staff from the Whitley Council agreements has allowed the Department to reduce hourly rates with effect from 1 January 2013. Perhaps the most publicised change in employment terms was the removal of paid lunch breaks for the Island’s bus drivers.

Following protracted but unsuccessful negotiations, this was achieved by the termination of all existing driver employment contracts and the offer of new contracts, which have been accepted by all staff but under ongoing protest. The new contracts will deliver £300,000 worth of savings per annum and permit the introduction of much more efficient arrangements for new starters. Staffing is not the only area that the Department is identifying efficiencies.

In Public Transport, the introduction of articulated buses is being trialled to attempt to reduce the number of vehicles in the fleet, fuel and maintenance costs. Minibus type vehicles will also be trialled to reduce costs on routes that are not commercially viable but important for social inclusion. Improved ticketing at the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre will greatly improve customers’ buying experience, particularly online.

The new system will be ready to launch in the new financial year and will be delivered with no capital cost to the Department. Not only will this system deliver benefits to our Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre patrons, it will be scalable to deliver online ticketing for the first time to Curraghs Wildlife Park customers and there is the potential for limited use within Manx National Heritage, the National Sport Centre, Sports Development and Railway events.

This shift towards smarter ticketing will increase revenue, reduce cost of delivery and greatly increase operational efficiency.

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