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Record Social Security Spending 19 March 2004

At this month's sitting of Tynwald, the Department of Health and Social Security will be seeking approval to the uprating of social security benefits from next month.

The Department expects to spend £164 million on social security over the next 12 months, an increase of £5.2 million on the current year. Social Security spending continues to account for a quarter of all Government spending.

The largest element of this, nearly £99 million, is to provide state retirement pensions, whilst a further £17 million is allocated for child benefit and £18 million for benefits for the sick and disabled. Income related benefits for people below pension age, which will in many cases underpin benefits for disability and for the costs of bringing up children, are set to cost £13 million.

In addition the Department is introducing two new benefits, adoption allowance and paternity allowance and enhancing maternity allowance provision for persons in employed earners employment at a cost in excess of £800,000.

In announcing the increases, Member of the Department with responsibility for Social Security, Mr Phil Gawne, M.H.K., said

"The Social Security Budget continues to represent a huge commitment. This year's uprating along with the introduction of the new benefits maintains the policy of providing help to meet genuine need as well as encouraging independence and providing incentives to work, both important parts of Government's employment policies."

As an indication of the success of those broader Government policies, assisted by the benefit structure, Mr Gawne advised

"There are only some 416 people registered as unemployed, 330 lone parents on income support, and 1,336 people on long term incapacity benefit out of the Island's working population of some 40,000."

Recognising the growing concern about people on low incomes not supported by the benefit system he concluded,

"Social Security Division will be working closely with Treasury to develop effective solutions to resolve some of the difficulties faced by people on low incomes."

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