I was born in Jersey, and have lived most of my life on the Island, so can say with complete conviction that I fully understand the issues facing the Island and its people. Educated at Victoria College, I subsequently worked in the local finance industry for 25 years before setting up my own small business.
There are a number of major issues facing our Island which need to be tackled; issues that potentially will impact negatively on our quality of life, which is something we all should strive to protect, and improve for everyone.
Population Growth: the growth in our population over the past 8 years has had serious consequences on housing supply and pricing, put increased pressure on our education system, and placed a heavy burden on our underfunded health and social services. This will continue unless we address it now. The introduction of work permits, with varying conditions, that are employer and job specific, for all in the working population, would allow government to be proactive in managing population growth, and to meet a sensible, manageable, and acceptable target.
Housing and Future Development: Young families trying to buy their first home are finding it nearly impossible. We need a better solution than just building new large scale developments. Government needs to encourage and work with the parishes to deliver more small scale affordable home developments to give those families hope.
Income Tax, GST and User Pays Charges: Despite the apparent growth in the economy, this prosperity is not being shared by all Islanders. The fact that we have a high degree of unseen poverty with its direct impact on children, and the increased use of food banks, is something that shames all of us. We have seen the economic divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” steadily increasing. I believe that we need to undertake a complete review of our personal income tax system, social security contributions, and current and potential user pays charges. It is wrong that the financial burden is being increasingly borne by middle and lower income families. Removal of GST on food and children’s clothing, a fairer tax system based on ability to pay, and a raising of the cap on social security contributions would be a step in the right direction.
The Economy: The Finance industry is vitally important to our economy and continued prosperity, and government needs to ensure it continues to thrive in a stable well regulated environment. Potential negative impacts of Brexit, and the growing threat of actions from overseas governments, dictates that government needs to be looking to stimulate growth in alternative industries. We can grow the economy by supporting and encouraging small businesses and sole traders by reducing employer social security contribution rates relative to the size of the business, and by providing tax based incentives to start-ups in the first 3 years of business.
Only by working together can we make a real and positive difference to the lives of every member of our society.