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FOCUS: What does Reform Jersey pledge in its manifesto?

FOCUS: What does Reform Jersey pledge in its manifesto?

Friday 20 May 2022

FOCUS: What does Reform Jersey pledge in its manifesto?

Friday 20 May 2022


Renegotiating the bus contract, supporting islanders with low-carbon heating options, giving tenants first dibs if their properties are due to be sold by the landlord and supporting the decriminalisation of cannabis all feature in Reform Jersey's manifesto.

Here's a rundown of the key elements of the document, which the party describes as a 'New Deal' for Jersey...

Key pledges

The party lays out nine “key pledges”:

  • Raising the minimum wage to the Living Wage, starting by raising it to £10 an hour by 1 October this year.

  • Declaring a ‘housing crisis’ in the first wek of office, and urgently implementing a ‘Housing Crisis Action Plan’.

  • Expanding a ‘Health Access Scheme’ so islanders with long-term illnesses can access cheaper GP appointments, with a wider plan to work towards abolishing the fee entirely for all islanders.

  • Removing GST from food and essential items by 2023, on the same basis as VAT exemptions in the UK.

  • Providing hot and nutritious meals daily for all children by September 2023.

  • Raising the top rate of tax for the highest earners, reducing it for middle earners and protecting the lowest earners.

  • Renegotiating the contract for the bus service to provide more affordable and environmentally friendly options.

  • Establishing a programme to support households to transition to low-carbon heating systems.

  • Establishing a Public Services Ombudsman. 

However, the manifesto also contains a number of other commitments. 

Housing

Part of Reform’s plan to address the housing crisis is to put in place European-style rent regulations to provide greater control on the rental sector. They would also like to see the introduction of a Rent Tribunal, open-ended tenancies, and a landlord licensing scheme.

Social housing, the party say, ought to be reformed with an emphasis placed on affordability rather than a percentage of market value. 

Reform state that increasing the overall supply of affordable homes is a key concern for the party, and that they would like to see public-owned land kept for affordable or sheltered accommodation, rather than be used for buy-to-let.

Andium.jpg 

Pictured: Reform would like to see the cost of social housing examined, with an emphasis on affordability rather than a percentage of market value.

Measures to reduce foreign ownership should also be investigated, according to the party.

Reform would also like to legislate to require landlords to firstly have to offer to sell their properties to sitting tenants, and they would also like to set up a fund for tenants to allow them to secure homes through shared equity with Andium.

This fund would be topped up through the proceeds of an Empty Homes Tax or higher rates of Stamp Duty for investment properties. 

Health

Reform says it is “committed to the principle of a health service which provides timely and high-quality care, and is free at the point of need for all.” 

As well as broadening the Health Access Scheme, the party say they want a closer eye kept on the Jersey Care Model. They describe it as a model which “rightly focuses on providing care at home where people feel most comfortable”, but say they have already seen “worrying signs that user-pays fees for certain services may increased, and that greater pressure will be put on charities without adequate support.” 

While the party says it does not believe Overdale to be “ideal”, Reform confirmed they would not wish to restart the site selection process, spending “tens of millions of pounds on consultants” in the process, instead saying it would rather focus on current healthcare issues. 

Hospital main entrance Overdale.jpeg

Pictured: Reform say they don't believe the new hospital plans are "ideal", but will not spend money going back to the drawing board.

In the area of Public Health, the party would like to see a progressive ‘Substance Use Strategy’ created. Reform said this should be focused on the principle of harm reduction and ensuring there is plenty of education around drugs, alcohol and tobacco. 

Reform added that they would “support the decriminalisation of cannabis as part of a wider harm reduction strategy, as there is a growing body of evidence that criminalisation is counterproductive and more costly in the long-run. 

Tax 

In addition to the GST “key pledge”, the party says it would also remove the ’20 means 20’ calculation and allow all taxpayers to claim allowances.

supermarkettrolleyshopping.jpg

Pictured: A key pledge of the party is to remove GST from food items to help islanders with the cost of living.

The party would also suspend the high-value residency scheme until a full cost-benefit review has been undertaken. The party says that, as a minimum, it would hope to increase the minimum tax paid.

Reform also wants changes made to the Income Support system, and would like to see a ‘crisis desk’ created. 

Environment

As part of the plan to renegotiate the island’s bus service contract, Reform says it would push for more green transport options, as well as improving Jersey's cycling infrastructure, safer walking pathways.

The party said that, as the island moves towards carbon neutrality, it would work on the principle of a ‘just transition’, which means that it would not introduce measures “which will cause economic hardship for those who already struggle with the cost of living”.

It would also like to support islanders making their homes more energy efficient, potentially with a scheme assisting them with installing low-carbon heating systems.

Children

As well as looking to introduce hot meals to schools, Reform also believes creating a replacement facility for Greenfields to be an urgent priority. Instead, it would like to see the site become a centre to be used by children and families.

Greenfields.jpeg

Pictured: Reform would like to see a replacement facility for young offenders.

The party aims to introduce a cross-government commitment to uphold children’s rights, and also wishes to develop a plan to extend the universal education offer to two and three-year-olds. 

Diversity

Reform believes that there should be an ‘Equalities’ portfolio which is clearly allocated to a Minister. It also says that, if it gets the opportunity to serve, the party would focus on ironing out clauses in legislation which may discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.

In the realm of arts, Reform also said it would work “closely with many groups to make sure that all cultures are represented, and we celebrate the vibrancy and diversity they bring to the island’s identity.” 

Workers

The party says that, if in government, it would hold regular face-to-face meetings with union representatives. 

Reform would also look to extend limitation times and maximum payment thresholds for claims made in the Employment Tribunal, which deals with worker disputes.

It would also like to see the equivalent of ‘Transfer of Undertakings’ (Protection of Employment’ regulations on the island.

Facilities

The party says government does not currently have adequate plans for the maintenance of key arts facilities on the island like the Opera House, so it would like to see a maintenance plan put in place for all important community facilities.

opera_house.jpg

Pictured: Reform would like to see maintenance plans put in place for the island's key arts facilities.

They said they support ensuring that sports facilities remain “fully inclusive and accessible to all”. Reform also pledged to “work with all clubs and associations to ensure that the Island has a sports strategy that supports both with the provision of facilities and funding to provide accessible community programmes.”

What the party leader said:

"We must not squander this opportunity to bring about a future for our Island which we can have confidence will deliver us all better lives. We need a 'New Deal' for Jersey. Together we can achieve this," said Senator Sam Mézec, who is standing for election as Deputy in St. Helier South.

"At this election, Reform Jersey will be presenting our vision for a Jersey that works for everyone. As we come out of the covid pandemic, we cannot simply go back to business as usual.

"Our manifesto proposes a 'New Deal' for Jersey, based on equality, sustainability and accountability."

CLICK HERE to read the full manifesto.

READ MORE...

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