Hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money have been wasted on the deployment of so-called “LoveIOM” cards, according to new figures released by the Isle of Man Government and reported by Three FM:

Just over £240,000 has been spent on the LoveIOM card initiative since its launch last year…Around 2,500 cards have been sold and over £70,000 has so far been spent at local hospitality businesses through the scheme.

£240,000 spent on LoveIOM card initiative

The so-called “LoveIOM” program is a parochial gift card system which is open to certain retailers on the Isle of Man. The program was designed as a misguided attempt to stimulate spending at local hospitality outlets, costing taxpayers £96 per card deployed so far.

Experienced industry experts estimate that restaurants have a profit margin of around 5% globally. With just £70,000 spent at local hospitality businesses using the card, it is likely that Manx restaurants have profited by less than £3,500 in total, a terrible return for £240,000 in sunk costs – especially since that tiny amount of profit is likely to have been substantially replacing money that would be spent by consumers anyway.

“This program has been an abject waste of taxpayer funds, with hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money lit on fire with no discernible benefit to the people of Mann,” said Michael Josem of the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance.

“Somehow, the Government has created a digital gift card system which is like money, but worse. The only winners here are the consultants who proposed the silly scheme, and the bumbling bureaucrats who are paid to administer it,” said Josem. “There’s no evidence of any uplift in spending caused by this program, with the system likely to simply redirect existing spending through this new expensive and complicated system.”

Instead of conjuring up magical ways to make taxpayer money disappear, the Isle of Man Government should have just followed the advice from the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance a year ago, and fought against imposing higher taxes on Manx hospitality businesses. The Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance proposal would have led to lower prices for Manx consumers, and real financial benefits for Manx businesses.

Further information about the failure of the LoveIOM card is available from Isle of Man Newspapers and Manx Radio.