Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce calls for responsive civil service

Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce calls for responsive civil service

Chamber president Kristan McDonald said the public sector needed to follow the private sector in changing its practices to reduce bureaucracy .

Mr McDonald described the government’s plans to overhaul departments and how they operate as a “very good vision”.

However, he said a “change in culture” was needed for it to succeed.

More than 500 businesses are registered with the chamber, which has lobbied politicians on issues like regulation, staffing issues and financial support.

Mr McDonald, who was appointed president in September, said the private sector had transformed in response to “technology changes, demographic change and the pandemic”.

“We need the civil service to do the same thing as well”, he said, while praising the government’s overall response during the pandemic.

While he accepted increased oversight was needed “when you are dealing with public money”, he argued a “risk averse” attitude needed to change.

“The only way that the island is going to be able to prosper is to have a responsive political system, and a responsible civil service that can react to those changes,” he added.

More than £100m was paid out by Treasury during the 2020-2021 financial year to support businesses and workers through the pandemic.

An additional £9m was recently made available for sectors like catering, lifestyle, hospitality and non-essential retail over the winter period.

The latest government employment figures show catering, tourism and retail are three of the sectors with the largest number of vacancies.

Mr McDonald said interest in those “traditional entry level” jobs had been eroded as Manx students chose not to return to the island, while those who do no longer want to work “in those sorts of roles”.

However, attracting and retaining those staff would come down to helping them on arrival, something he said the chamber continued to discuss with the government.

A shortage of suitable housing and the island’s “crazy” rental market were barriers that could stop “people coming over to the island, increasing our population, and filling in some of those skills shortages”, he said.

Making accommodation easily available as a “landing pad” in the short term was one step that could be taken to help persuade more people to relocate, he added.