Jersey’s Chief Minister is being urged to take emergency action to protect islanders from drifting into food and energy poverty by slashing pump prices by 9p per litre and giving every household £100 credit towards their bills.
In an open letter to Senator John Le Fondré sent on Friday but made public today, Jersey Consumer Council warns that, “if left unchallenged”, the current rate at which prices are rising following Brexit, covid and now the Ukraine war “will see more islanders cross the bread line", relying on food banks, charities and food waste apps to get by.
They are therefore calling for a “raft of temporary measures to help islanders weather the current storm until global prices, demand and supply chains begin to stabilise”.
Reducing the duty on motor fuel by 9p per litre at the till - “Due to fuel prices rising by up to 75% in some cases, the amount of duty the Government is taking from fuel has risen considerably, therefore creating a comfortable buffer to offset the proposed 9p reduction at the till.”
Giving £100 credit to the island’s 41,000 households toward energy bills – “This could be oil, gas or electricity. This one- off measure could again be off-set from the increased income the Government is receiving from soaring fuel costs.”
Postponing the online shopping change – “To date, the proposed reduction in the deminimis level has been scheduled for 2023, although no firm date has been set in stone. We would ask the Government to offer a guarantee that it will not impose the changes to online shopping before at least 1 January 2023.”
Free bus journeys to St. Helier and/or free parking on Saturdays – “This will encourage consumers to continue using the town centre for their shopping despite rising prices, and help maintain Islanders’ access to a broad range of food and grocery outlets. This will save up to £4.80 per return fare into St Helier – the equivalent of the amount of GST spent on almost £100 of shopping, or £2.70 per car driver.”
Setting up an anti-inflation panel of businesses and experts to monitor and react to price rises
The Consumer Council is also asking local supermarkets to increase the size of their donation bins for local food banks and increase awareness of their presence.
They are also asking local supermarkets to resist any further price increases on ‘essential’ items, including bread, milk, eggs and vegetables.
Pictured: A breakdown of the changes in everyday item prices islanders experienced between 2020 and 2021. (Statistics Jersey)
Accounting for more than 10% of the global wheat market and 30% of global exports combined with Russia, Ukraine has long been known as the "breadbasket of Europe".
The country is also the world's largest exporter of common cooking ingredient sunflower oil.
The calls for Government action from the Consumer Council come as UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak is today expected to announce a 5p cut in fuel duty and an increase in the national insurance threshold in response to an anticipated squeeze on UK households some experts have suggested may be the worst to affect the UK since the 1970s.
The Bank of England is predicting that inflation will top 8% in April, rising further in the autumn.
Pictured: War-torn Ukraine is the world's biggest exporter of sunflower oil.
According to estimates by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the latest oil and gas price hike could leave workers as much as £300 worse off.
Jersey Consumer Council's Executive Officer, Tina Langdon, previously suggested that islanders make use of their online price comparison tools to help balance their budgets, as well as considering charity shops and bulk-buying certain items when they are on offer, if they are able to afford it.
The Council is currently seeking funding from Government to improve its price comparison offering even further.
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