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It's going to be emotional...States contest spending and saving

It's going to be emotional...States contest spending and saving

Thursday 14 November 2019

It's going to be emotional...States contest spending and saving


From cutting alcohol duty to taxing high-value cars, States Members are weighing in with their own suggestions for where Jersey should be putting its money, with just under two weeks before the set-piece debate on the Government's four-year plans.

Already dubbed an “ambitious” document, the island’s first Government Plan 2020-2023 has been the subject of numerous amendments from backbenchers, scrutineers and even one Minister.

From taxing luxury cars, making doctor’s appointments cheaper, and restricting the duty on alcohol – many States Members have their own ideas on where the Government should be spending their money.

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Pictured: The States are just under two weeks away from the major debate on the island's first Government Plan.

Express takes a look at some of the amendments filed under the Government Plan ahead of the key debate...

Cure the financial barrier to GP appointments – Deputy Geoff Southern

Brought by backbencher and Reform Jersey member, Deputy Southern’s amendment is a bid to earmark more money to subsidise the cost of GP appointments for senior citizens, expectant mothers, children under five and those on income support.

The Deputy’s scheme aims to cut £10 off these patient’s GP bill, using funds from a pot of money called the Health Insurance Fund. It’s proposed that this should start in October of next year – hence why the amendment only asks for £900,000 for the final three months of 2020 – but he calculates that the cost of such an endeavour for a whole year would be approximately £3.6million. 

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Pictured: Deputy Geoff Southern wants to earmark funding for more subsidised GP visits.

This follows the finding of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, when it returned to the island earlier this year, that Jersey’s Government should implement new policies allowing “free or fully-funded access to GP care and advice for vulnerable groups.”

In the report accompanying his amendment, Deputy Southern states: “There can be no doubt that a co-payment of £40 is a barrier to accessing primary care through GP practices for many. 

“If we are to succeed in any of the laudable aims of increased prevention activity, early diagnosis and treatment, and greater access for all, we must make GP consultation affordable for those in greatest need, whether that be medical, social or economic.”

Park the parking hours idea – Deputy Russell Labey 

Deputy Labey’s amendment seeks to remove the proposal in the recently published Efficiencies Programme 2020-23 that the Government will increase the chargeable parking hours from the current 08:00 – 17:00 to 07:00 – 18:00.

The Deputy slams the plans as “trite nonsense,” and argues that it unfairly penalises St. Helier residents and shoppers.

Some islanders have created a petition to stop proposals to change the paid for parking hours which currently has over 4,500 signatures.

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Pictured: The increase to chargeable parking hours has caused some controversy amongst islanders.

“Dressing up this quick fix revenue-raiser as some kind of green initiative to reduce dependency on the car or to improve air quality is trite nonsense. Two additional, but critical, hours will simply inconvenience and aggravate those most undeserving of such interventions.”

Hike up tax on luxury cars – Deputy Rob Ward

Having successfully brought the proposal to announce a ‘climate emergency’ in Jersey – securing politicians’ commitment to go carbon neutral by 2030 – Deputy Ward is now seeking to tax owners of high-value cars and give breaks to those who buy “climate-positive goods.”

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Pictured: Deputy Ward managed to get the States Assembly to declare a 'climate emergency'. 

By increasing GST to 10% on luxury cars (worth more than £30,000) and making products like solar panels, electric cars and bikes or double glazing GST, the Deputy says that this will provide an incentive for consumers to support environmentally-friendly goods.

“This change sends a clear message of intent to the general Public, that climate-positive measures will be supported. It counteracts, to some extent, what can be seen as more punitive tax rises elsewhere.”

Swallow above-inflation duty on alcohol – Deputy Rowland Huelin

This amendment proposes restricting price increases to alcohol to the rate of inflation, arguing that hiking up the price of liquor won’t stop people drinking.

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Pictured: Deputy Huelin wants to restrict rises on alcohol price to the rate of inflation.

Deputy Huelin says: “To change people’s drinking habits, you must change the culture of drinking. Pricing hasn’t, doesn’t, and won’t work. Drinking and driving didn’t, quite rightly, become taboo because of increasing drink prices. It was sustained hard-hitting advertising campaigns over a generation. Let’s be clever, try something different, and not just tax those who can’t afford it!”

To make up the shortfall, which he estimates as being £1.05million, Deputy Huelin suggests increasing fuel duty for cars and boats, or dipping into States’ coffers.

Scrutiny amends

Various Scrutiny Panels have joined forces to submit their suggested changes to the Government Plan 2020-2023. 

These are as follows:

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Pictured: Scrutiny's amendments to the Government Plan.

In addition to these amendments, Deputy Mike Higgins is seeking more funding for the island’s Cadet Forces and Deputy Inna Gardiner wants more money for the Youth Service.

Senator Sam Mézec has submitted an amendment to keep the Long-Term Care charge at 1% rather than increasing it to 2% as it proposes in the Government Plan as well as getting rid of the cap entirely to keep the charge the same for islanders across the board.

Deputy Carina Alves is also suggesting an alternative Social Security change to fund the recently-approved increased rights for working parents.

Senator Kristina Moore has asked for funding to support sailor Phil Sharp in his endeavour to make his yacht emissions-free.

Constable of St. Helier Simon Crowcroft wants a committee to administer the proposed ‘Climate Emergency Fund’ as well as a Policy Development Board to work on the delivery public amenities in town and devolving certain Town responsibilities from the States to the Parish.

READ MORE from Express on the Government Plan…

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