The final Government Plan before the next election has been approved by States members.
It was approved by 35 votes to seven, with two abstentions.
26 challenges were made to the plan. Thirteen weren't debated, as they were accepted by the Council of Ministers.
Those 13 that were accepted by Ministers were:
- Capping social housing rents at 80% of the market rate
- Reinstating the original business case funding request for Regulatory Sustainability
- Spend £80,000 on allowing the Youth Service Inclusion Project to continue
- Reducing the government's ability to borrow for the Fiscal Stimulus Fund by £20,359,000
- Reinstating the Jersey Child Care Trust's full grant for 2022.
- Increasing the budget for mental health services by £500,000 in 2022
- Spend £100,000 on looking at appropriate sites, including Piquet House, for an office space for States members.
- Spend £100,000 on a piece of 'rapid research' to determine the extent of sexual and domestic violence and harassment in Jersey, including crimes such as drink spiking. Spend £100,000 on staff for one year on a Task Force to create action points for the next government to work on.
- Re-establish External Relations as a separate department within the Government of Jersey
- Establish several political commitments regarding the use of the Health Insurance Fund as the source of funding for the Jersey Care Model
- Transferring £330,000 to the Children's Department to fund the Covid Health and Social Recovery Project
- Spend £150,000 on buying a field in First Tower and redeveloping it into a playing area for children at the primary school, as well as the wider community.
- Spend £250,000 on a new air monitoring project in Jersey.
Of the other 13, four were approved by the States Assembly in some form:
- Under-18 bus pass scheme from 1 January 2022
- Independent review of the island's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the publication by 29 July 2022.
- The increase in alcohol duty halved to 2.5%
- Make buy-to-let investors pay higher stamp duty
Amendments to spend more money on nursery education were withdrawn after the Children and Education Minister vowed to put forward an action plan on the Nursery Education Fund and Early Years before the end of March 2022.
Six amendments were rejected:
- Giving all Jersey schools at least 15% of guaranteed minimum headroom funding
- Increasing the Children's Department's budget by £10million in 2022
- Extending the Health Access Scheme to all Jersey residents by 2023
- Reducing the government's level of borrowing by £345 million over the period of this Government Plan
- Removing the £20million Technology Fund from the Government Plan (a proposition will have to be brought forward at a later date to ask for States approval of the fund)
- Removing the Upper Earnings Limit, abolishing the upper earnings limit cap on Social Security Contributions and Long term care Contributions
More detail behind the Government Plan can be found here.
This plan proposes spending a total of £1.118 billion in 2022. £962 million would be on public services and £217 million would be on projects such as the new hospital.
That £1.118billion compares to £955 million in 2020.
Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondre, says it will provide for the continued response to Covid, as well as the recovery, both economically and socially.
"It includes £13.4million over the next four years into our children's health recovery plan and an additional £5million to spend on our health and social recovery side. Thanks to the amendment of the Constable of St Brelade, it also now includes a provision for a review into our handling of Covid.
The plan commits us to around £200million worth of spending towards putting children first next year and raises the growth for expenditure for education to around £25million.
This plan will see more than £13million in new funding towards mental health over the next four years and support for our aging population via the Jersey Care Model.
It offers an important opportunity to revitalise our local economy as well as invest in our digital sector and support for our heritage, arts, and culture.
We are going to be implementing the new £10million affordable purchase product and that will be in place before the end of this term and that will help more islanders to own their own homes.
Senator John Le Fondré
We've also proposed £23million in funding to be deployed by the Climate Emergency Fund to support the switch to lower-carbon transport and more energy-efficient heating.
This year's Government Plan includes a further £20million on rebalancing delivering savings to taxpayers and increasing efficiency within the government, that is on top of the just under £60million recurring that has already been achieved.
It also builds on the progress we've made to improve the government's infrastructure. We have agreed plans to borrow responsibly to cover our pandemic response and the refinancing of our pension debt and we have plans in all of those to repay those on a pragmatic basis.
We've outlined plans to refinance those existing public sector pension liabilities early, saving the taxpayer £3.6billion over the longer-term and that is the first time I can ever recall anyone in this assembly being able to say that.
This plan is, therefore, able to charter course to return to balanced budgets without relying on raising taxes, delaying important projects, or jeopardising our financial reserves. It goes back into the black, into surplus, in 2023."
Whilst the majority of States members approved the plan, it was criticised by some, including Senator Kristina Moore.
She says the plan needs more detail and doesn't go far enough.
"The borrowing, as I think the economic adviser sets out very clearly in his report, potentially risks the autonomy of the island, there is no Plan B here.
What if the economy does not perform as it is expected to do? What will happen? That will be left to future governments, because this governemnt has no Plan B.
It simply expects that life will continue on in its present form despite having experienced some significant years of disruption, the impact of which will be felt for some time to come.
Senator Kristina Moore
The matters of productivity within our economy are simply not dealt with in the Government Plan. They were set out early on by the government when they pulled elements out of other people's manifestos and set out their own priorities.
Productivity has not been turned around during this period and accountability has not been properly managed. Unfortunately, we have found time and time again, as our report shows, a lack of openness and transparency in dealing with these issues.
Despite the number of amendments that have been adopted that will make considerable improvements to the lives of islanders, for example, the bus passes for our young people, I do find it very difficult to support this Government Plan going forward because it is simply not detailed enough, it doesn't meet enough of the government's own Common Strategic Priorities such as reducing income inequality and improving the standard of living."