More than 11,000 islanders receiving benefits will be given an extra £20 a month for the rest of the year in response to the rising costs of fuel and basic goods – but a consumer group has said that it “won’t touch the sides” for most people.
On Tuesday, Social Security Minister Judy Martin announced that the 9,600 adults and children living in Income Support households and about 1,800 pensioners who don’t qualify for Income Support but receive help with heating, health or other costs would be eligible for the top-up.
The overall cost of this scheme would be £2m, which would come from existing budgets, she said, adding that Income Support rates would rise by 2.6% in October.
Unable to change this rate, which was agreed by the States Assembly last year, Deputy Martin said that the temporary scheme was designed to help households on a tight budget to meet rising costs, with 3.8% rate of inflation in Jersey expected to increase further this year.
Pictured: Social Security Minister Judy Martin.
Jersey Consumer Council recently wrote to the Chief Minister to request that he take urgent action to protect islanders from drifting into food and energy poverty by slashing pump prices by 9p per litre at the tills and giving every household £100 credit towards their bills.
Responding to yesterday's announcement, the group's Chair, Carl Walker, said that while any Government action to support islanders was welcome, the measures fell way short.
“Firstly, £5 per week extra isn’t even going to touch the sides for most people, and will be quickly swallowed in a single carrier bag of food groceries,” he said.
“But more importantly, this measure from the Social Security Minister only helps those who already receive financial support from the Government. This cost-of-living emergency is so called because it is affecting many people, not only those already receiving financial help.
“There are many hard-working islanders who have perhaps saved to buy their own home, or families with both parents working full time who do not qualify for Government help, but who cannot make ends meet on a daily basis."
Pictured: The Consumer Council recently wrote an open letter to the Chief Minister asking for urgent action to help islanders deal with rises in the cost of living.
Senator Kristina Moore is calling for the Community Costs Bonus to be increased by 8%, and for that bonus to be extended to anyone who pays income tax at the marginal rate, and all islanders who receive Income Support.
Supporting that call is Senator Tracey Vallois, who is suggesting extending that eligibility for two years, with a review to be undertaken six months before the expiry to decide if it needs to be extended further based on global circumstances at the time.
“I am sure hearts sank when they heard the details of the Government’s help package announced yesterday, which came across as a last-minute wrecking motion for Senator Moore's proposition rather than a genuine attempt to help all of those in need," Mr Walker added.
Senior Minister Senator Ian Gorst, meanwhile, last week said that he would like to see fuel duty cut by 10p before the June election. However, Treasury Minister Deputy Susie Pinel yesterday ruled out cutting fuel duty despite soaring prices at the pump due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
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The Jersey Consumer Council has created the following price comparison tools to help islanders compare the costs of different essentials...
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Another one to go come election time.
Why should the taxpayer be effectively providing additional benefit for people on low incomes.
The solution to the fuel hike is in the governments hands, The fuel duty should be frozen at the level prior to the increase in fuel prices. It is immoral for our government, or any government for that matter, to profit from the fact that fuel prices have risen.
The issue of food prices is another issue entirely and should be addressed in terms of the benefit that is already given.