Social care minister calls for benefit system overhaul

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A major overhaul of the Isle of Man's benefit system is being proposed by social care minister, Chris Robertshaw.

Mr Robertshaw is calling for a national debate on social policy to ensure the island supports its most vulnerable, while balancing budgets.

"I am very confident that if we have clear principles and apply them fairly then the public will accept the need for change," he said.

Consultation documents will be published over the coming weeks.

Mr Robertshaw added: "We have a simple choice to make in order to address the substantial gap between government's income and expenditure.

"We can either raise taxes significantly, which I firmly believe will damage jobs and the economy, or we can accept reforms to our social policy to ensure we support the most vulnerable while balancing government's budget."

"I look forward now to a thorough public discussion on the principles of social policy reform."

In February's Manx budget, social care was one of three government departments to see an increase in spending alongside education and health.

In his budget speech, Treasury minister Eddie Teare called for a curb to benefits which, in some cases, he said, paid more than the minimum wage.

In the island's budget, he announced cuts of £35m by reducing government spending in six out of the nine main departments.

Following the summer-long consultation, Tynwald will debate social policy reform later this year with a view to government drafting the three-year budget to be approved in February 2013.

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