Positive Action Group - Possan Jantys Jarrooagh

Open, accountable government, rigorous control of public finances, and a fairer society for all.

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Learning from Mistakes: Black Box thinking

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Observe-Interpret-Intervene-CycleSince becoming Chief Minister, Allan Bell has regularly stated that government must be prepared to take risks. This sentiment has also been supported by Minister for Policy and Reform, John Shimmin and DED Minister, Laurence Skelly. In preparing the ground for the adoption of a £50 million Economic Development package, all three warned that there could well be some failures within the various projects supported under the scheme.

The converse of this argument is for those in power also need to recognise when they have goofed and what's more to learn from the experience. 

Times columnist Mathew Syed succinctly makes the case for a positive attitude to failure in the "Soap Box" feature on BBC 2's Daily Politicson 28.10.15:

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 November 2015 22:50

Another User Agreement? Under no circumstances!

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steampacketcrashMany people amazingly do not appear to appreciate fully the vital importance of our sea link.

It was this fact that prompted me some twenty five or thirty years ago to propose that the IoM Government should purchase the Company. A proposal that many other people have also suggested over the years.

This could still be done to-day for the IOMSPCo Ltd does not appear to have much collateral value.

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 November 2015 22:38

Voting and Digital Inclusion

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Online-votingIf it is determined that the public should be involved in the election of the Legislative Council then the opportunity to move to on line voting should be seized.  It is a stated objective of Tynwald that the future should include more use of IT facilities to enhance communication and lower cost.  Of course not everybody is either willing or capable of using a computer for voting so any introduction must cater for what is assuredly now a minority in the Island.
There are many well developed on-line voting systems available and the wheel has very much been invented so it would be the task of ITD to select the best after detailed and destructive security testing.  There would be a natural leaning towards the London based Electoral Reform Society but their prominent position attracts very significant fees and there are several other systems with equally strong experience and high security.  For example examine the facilities available in the BigPulse.com application which cover the dissemination of manifestos, postal voting STV etc.  The cost for 50,000 electors (current 48000+ say 2000 commissioners et al missed off) is only £7,000 for all elections held within 12 months.
Last Updated on Sunday, 18 October 2015 18:57

Submission to the Select Committee Reviewing the Committee System

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Please find our Submission to the Select Committee Reviewing the Committee System April 2015 attached.


Two tier Planning System - Rich pickings for some!

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richer poorer

I've written before about the emergence, in the last few years, of a two tier planning system - one for the very rich and one for the rest of us.

Never was that more apparent than with a recent decision by CoMin to reject an independent planning inspector's recommendation to refuse PA 15/00124 at Meary Voar, Santon.

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 October 2015 19:25

Public Sector Pensions (Part Two) - The Way Forward

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The History –The Government Unified Scheme (GUS) was introduced in 2012, following lengthy negotiation with staff.  It simplified the administration of some 15 different public sector pension schemes and increased some employee contributions, but made no substantial difference to their affordability or sustainability, nor indeed their fairness to taxpayers and the private sector. It followed tortuous negotiations with the unions and their members (and at a cost of well over £1 million, paid to the consultants Hymans Robertson). Shortly afterwards, it was proclaimed by government spin as a major success story, quite forgetting both the financial implications and that it constituted a desperately sad situation of "pensions apartheid" - dividing the public sector (where 90% of workers have a salary linked pension heavily subsidised by the taxpayer) against the private sector where less than 50% now apparently have any form of pension scheme applicable at all.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 22:16

PAG public meeting: Towards Smaller, Smarter Government

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PAG Public Meeting

'Towards Smaller, Smarter Government'

A talk by

Chris Robertshaw MHK

7.30pm Monday 28th September 2015

Manx Legion Club. Market Hill, Douglas



Last Updated on Thursday, 17 September 2015 13:13

Public Sector Pensions– A Review (Part One)

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pensionsThe Problems - Put in its simplest form, the problems with public sector pension schemes are two-fold – their funding arrangements and increasing life expectancy.

  1. The schemes, with defined benefits relating essentially to salary and years of service, have origins dating back to the 1920’s and 1930’s – when life expectancy of approx 60 years was considerably shorter than today’s expectation of perhaps 85 years, and thus pensions – if paid at all - were paid for relatively short periods following retirement. 

  2. As a result, staff pension contributions of typically 5% of pay, and matched by the employer, were historically sufficient to fund the liabilities of these schemes. However, because life expectancy has increased so significantly and so rapidly in the past 2-3 decades (with resultant increases in long-term pension payouts) but with funding arrangements (via employee and employer contributions) having remained unchanged, these schemes are today proving to be too generous, and requiring massive additional “top-ups” from the taxpayer.  They are thus unsustainable.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 September 2015 15:39

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