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URGENT ACTION NEEDED TO PROTECT ECONOMIC FUTURE OF THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Urgent action is needed to address serious weaknesses in the Isle of Wight economy, according to business advisory and corporate recovery firm Quantuma.

The firm has spoken out to say that there needs to be more than tourism and agriculture on the Island, otherwise there is a danger of the Isle of Wight continuing on a downward economic spiral.

Minimum wage jobs, an apparent decline in visitors to Cowes Week and young people moving off the Island for better jobs have all been mentioned by Quantuma.

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Mark Sands, personal insolvency partner for Quantuma (pictured left) has said:

“A combination of economic circumstances, infrastructure changes and an ageing population is giving serious cause for concern.

“Cowes Week was always the Isle of Wight’s biggest draw for the whole island however, since the arrival of the breakwater, there are concerns that larger boats can no longer access the marina. The law of unintended consequences has kicked in. The larger superyachts are no longer attending, and their owners and guests are therefore not spending in the town.

“The island already has a surfeit of minimum paid jobs on a zero-hour contract basis and high unemployment due to seasonal contracts. This has led to the younger population moving to the mainland to find jobs in bigger cities with more opportunities which, in turn, is giving the Isle of Wight a reputation for having an ageing population.

“There are not enough visitors during the winter months to support the largely seasonal jobs market and therefore the island suffers accordingly between October and April”.

The knock-on effect shows in the statistics which reveal that the Isle of Wight has a personal insolvency rate some 75% higher than the national average, while the rate for Debt Relief Orders (DROs) is more than 3 times the national average.

The overall economic effect is mirrored by Isle of Wight house prices which are 8% lower than the national average, having risen more slowly than the national trends for the past 4 years.

Sands commented:

“DROs apply to those with the lowest debts, minimal assets and minimal surplus income – as you would expect in a low paid economy.

“What we are finding is an economic sub area of the south east which is not like the rest of the South East”.

Quantuma is calling for urgent action to be taken to build a more resilient and less seasonal economy in order to stem the damaging migration of younger people in pursuit of better paid jobs and a more secure future.

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