From supporting bilingual schools to cutting the number of States Members, creating an ‘Innovation Centre’, and adopting a points-based immigration system… The Jersey Liberal Conservatives and Progress have found common ground in a range of areas.
For the first time in Jersey politics, two parties have combined in coalition to produce a manifesto upon which all the candidates for the two parties will stand.
Yesterday, the Progress Party leader Senator Steve Pallett and Jersey Liberal Conservatives leader Sir Philip Bailhache, who both parties have agreed to back as Chief Minister if elected, launched their Coalition Manifesto setting out their joint stance on the most important issues facing Jersey at the moment... so where do they align and what pledges have they made to the public?
The coalition says its main focus in regard to government is in restoring political accountability, good governance and prudence with finances, thereby making Jersey’s government more effective, more open, and more responsive to the needs of Jersey people.
Pictured: JLC and Progress want to undo some of former Chief Executive Charlie Parker's OneGov reforms.
The coalition plan to achieve this by carrying out a review of the functions of the Chief Executive Officer and the system of accountable officers.
The manifesto also outlines plans to restore financial discipline and undo the 'OneGov' reform which resulted in 800 extra public sector workers and increased spending by over £200m. They suggest that government borrowing is only justified if it is linked to a viable plan for repayment.
The parties also state that they would like to reduce the number of members of the States Assembly.
Pictured: The manifesto says they would like to see fewer States Members.
In addition, they say they will be keeping an open mind as to the potential re-introduction of island-wide voting.
The coalition pledge to “create the best healthcare service that Jersey can afford”, conducting reviews of all current services provided by Health and Community Services and of the purpose, nature and prospective costs of the Jersey Care Model.
They also hope to work towards a change in the culture of the health administration by creating an independent Health Board and ensuring an equitable division of resource between primary and secondary care.
The coalition also outlines plans to restore the relative value of Medical Benefit to at least the 2012 level and ensure the continuance of a rehabilitation centre (Samarés Ward) for the benefit of stroke and other disabled patients.
The coalition says it will maintain the current rate of income tax and the absence of any taxes on capital gains and inherited wealth.
However, they suggest that it is worth exploring whether corporation tax can be simplified so as to defuse international hostility, while maintaining tax neutrality. They also plan to review the criteria for granting permission to high-net-worth individuals to live in Jersey and propose that minimum tax contributions of high-net-worth individuals should be index-linked to take account of inflation.
Pictured: The JLC-Progress coalition election candidates at yesterday's manifesto launch, David Benn (JLC), Malcolm Ferey (JLC), Sophie Walton (Progress), Sir Philip Bailhache (JLC), Julie Wallman (JLC), Steve Pallett (Progress), Steve Bailey (Progress).
The coalition also pledges to improve the legal and regulatory infrastructure to enable the financial services industry to grow and prosper without increasing the number of people employed in Jersey, while encouraging a more entrepreneurial culture where technology, artificial intelligence and data are embraced to stimulate innovation and create economic growth and to help digital start-ups to get off the ground, perhaps by the creation of an 'Innovation Centre'.
The manifesto outlines the belief that the current rate of population growth is unsustainable, but says it would be foolhardy to come up with a policy given the current lack of detailed statistical information about demographics.
There are plans to consider a points-based immigration system, where a person’s eligibility is partly or wholly determined by whether that person can score above a threshold number of points in a scoring matrix that might include such factors as education, wealth, connection with the island, language fluency, existing job offer, or others.
The coalition wish to ensure that more of the development and redundant commercial land owned by the Government are released to the market. They suggest that, on appropriate sites, much or all the land released should be designated for ‘affordable’ housing, and that new and less expensive building methods combined with a sympathetic architectural approach should be encouraged. They add that building houses which are too small for families to enjoy life should not be permitted.
They also pledge to increase affordability by developing shared equity schemes for those who cannot pass through the Housing Gateway and to improve data on tenancies by completing a register of landlords. They argue that accurate information about actual rents charged rather than using advertised private sector rents for statistical purposes would be helpful in developing policy for the protection of both tenants and landlords.
The coalition also plans to examine how homelessness should be defined in law and how vulnerable people affected by homelessness can best be assisted.
The joint manifesto outlines plans to establish a Minister for the Environment whose sole responsibility is to protect and enhance the environment. It is suggested that this Minister would be supported by an Environment Department to carry out research and to enforce the law, including planning obligations, housing standards and the problem of traffic.
The coalition pledge to draw up a long-term plan to address and repair the loss of biodiversity over past decades. In addition, they would like to support the agricultural industry to produce more food for on-island consumption.
They would also like to see a Marine National Park be established in Jersey’s territorial waters, and pledge to take what they describe as urgent but economically sensible action to address climate change in accordance with the recommendations of the UN Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change and Jersey's Carbon Neutral Roadmap.
The coalition want an education system that places emphasis on digital learning, environmental issues, life skills and bilingualism. To achieve the latter, they'd like to see the establishment of bilingual primary schools where tuition is delivered in both English and French.
They also wish to conduct a review of further education financial support for families to ensure targeting towards professions within the island currently dependent on external recruitment.
The manifesto outlines plans to investigate the development of a digital 'passport' for every child from the beginning of their school career so that key aspects of their individual social, physical and mental health history and inhibitions to academic progress are recorded in one place. The 'passport' would be accessible to parents and all appropriate agencies subject to relevant data protection rules. The aim would be to give early information on indications of something going wrong to prevent problems arising or to enable them to be addressed.
The coalition also pledges to investigate the development of the means-tested provision of nursery services to enable all children aged 3-5, regardless of background, have access to 52 weeks of nursery education in a fairer system.
The coalition have outlined planes to give a Minister responsibility for social and community matters, with a focus on vulnerable people and eradicating poverty, as well as supporting charities.
They also pledge to raise the minimum wage to the level of the living wage.
They coalition pledges to ensure that Jersey Sport is given clearer political support both to develop its strategies and to nurture and encourage talented sportsmen and women to enhance their skills and to compete at the highest levels.
As Progress and JLC launched their joint manifesto yesterday, the two party leaders addressed why they hadn't become a single entity: “Some people may ask, quite reasonably, why the parties have not combined in a single entity.
"The answer to that is that, at the stage when the decision was made to join in coalition, there was insufficient time left before the election to complete the necessary legal and constitutional steps."
Pictured: Progress Party leader Senator Steve Pallett and Jersey Liberal Conservatives leader Sir Philip Bailhache.
They added: “The important point is that it seems to us in the public interest to put forward this joint programme for coalition government. Voters are entitled to know what they are voting for.
“Our manifesto sets out a statement of our stance on most of the important issues facing Jersey in 2022. It may not be as comprehensive as we might have wished, but in our defence, we would say that resources are limited, and we operate under strict statutory limits of expenditure which inhibit what can be done.
“Nonetheless, we hope the manifesto gives a reasonably clear picture of what our main policies are.”
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