The Department of Home Affairs is continuing to drive forward an ambitious programme of modernisation in response to its budgetary challenge.
A reduction in staff, changes to service delivery and the rationalisation of its estate are among a package of measures being pursued to achieve the ongoing revenue savings required across Government.
The Isle of Man Constabulary last week announced a redesign of its services aimed at maintaining community safety against a backdrop of financial constraint. The Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service is also set to outline a reorganisation of its management structure and functions, as budgetary pressures start to have an impact on front-line services.
The Department’s progress to date and its plans for the future are highlighted in its annual report for 2013-14.
The report states that the Department has delivered savings of more than £4 million (12%) over the past four years, and £8 million (21%) since its budget peaked in 2007-08. This has largely been achieved by reducing spending, rather than raising revenue.
Those efforts mean that Home Affairs delivers a wide range of community-focused services – including the Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Service, Prison and Probation Service, Emergency Communications and Emergency Planning – for less than £1 per person per day.
Minister Juan Watterson MHK said: ‘My three years at Home Affairs have been characterised by significant budget pressures and an exemplary determination by our people to meet those targets while maintaining our commitment to safeguarding the community. We are now down to the essentials. 2013-14 was our sixth consecutive year of budget reductions and for the first time we now have to cut into front-line services.’
He added: ‘We will continue to work efficiently and creatively in order to play a major role in delivering the national priorities of rebalancing public finances, growing the economy and protecting vulnerable people.’
The Home Affairs annual report points to another busy time for its services during 2013-14, with a number of high-profile events and achievements, including –
- Spearheading a major reform of the Island’s criminal justice system
- Reducing crime to its lowest level since the 1970s
- Playing a leading role in the emergency response to the 2013 snow storm and 2014 tidal flooding
- Mounting a major operational response to the fire at the Mount Murray hotel
- Winning the Robin Corbett Award for the PrisonWorks restorative justice project
- Hosting a visit to the prison by HRH The Princess Royal
Those successes have been delivered by a streamlined workforce following a reduction of 48 full-time posts since 2010-11. A further 24 posts are planned to go over the next two years, mainly as a result of restructuring within the Isle of Man Constabulary.
Looking ahead, the Department is seeking to achieve additional revenue savings and efficiencies through capital investment in its infrastructure.
Plans include the construction of a ‘Live Fire’ training facility, which will reduce the cost of off-Island training for firefighters, and converting the Grianagh Court mental health unit into a new bail hostel.
Work is also under way on a new custody block at Police Headquarters, which will consolidate all Douglas detention facilities into one location. This will help to improve efficiency and enable the police to vacate the Lord Street station – freeing it up for development.
The proposals build on changes that have recently taken place, including the demolition of Victoria Road prison, the sale of Onchan police station and the transfer of the Fire and Rescue Service headquarters. These measures are generating ongoing savings and significant capital receipts for Government.
Minister Watterson said: ‘With fewer front-line staff in future, we need to be realistic about the level of service the Department of Home Affairs can deliver at a cost of 97p per person per day. We will continue to be positive and bold, while seeking to minimise the impact on the most vulnerable people within our community. Overall, I believe we are building on a firm foundation towards a society that is safe, inclusive and in which business can prosper.’
The Department of Home Affairs annual report can be viewed on the Government website at http://www.gov.im/media/1212286/dha_annual_report_2013-14.pdf