Guernsey Press

Government Work Plan should lead to tangible action, says Soulsby

BETTER, faster and stronger government has been promised on the eve of the States debate to set government priorities for the next four years.

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Deputy Heidi Soulsby. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29780888)

For the first time an overarching plan – the Government Work Plan – has been created, to establish focus on what the States’ priorities should be.

Policy & Resources vice-president Heidi Soulsby is in charge of the plan.

She said it represented a big shift and should lead to tangible action.

‘People will know what government is doing and why it is doing it,’ she said.

‘It’s far more transparent than we’ve been before. There were great things in the Policy & Resource plan, but it was just too much and people could use it to justify everything. Now we’re saying these are the things that we’re going to do, you can hold us to account, you can see what we’re trying to do, and you’ll be able to see whether we’re meeting that or not.

‘So for the public it’s great for transparency, they can hold us to account.’

There are 10 recovery actions, which include tackling the housing crisis, starting the reorganisation of education and up-skilling the community.

So far there are 10 amendments to the plan, and Deputy Soulsby welcomed those challenges.

The most contentious amendment involves improving the range of drugs and treatments that are offered by the local health service, so that they reach the standard of the NHS.

From a financial perspective this amendment, from Deputy Peter Roffey, would be expensive on the taxpayer, so Deputy Soulsby said consideration was being given to a compromise that she hoped deputies could coalesce around.

Fresh from tackling the worst of the pandemic, Deputy Soulsby’s summer holiday project, which falls under the Government Work Plan, is to investigate a new structure of government for the island.

‘We need to start moving and getting a system that works more effectively, having a regard to how Covid was managed and the structures we had in place there.

‘I’m more swayed towards an executive system but it doesn’t mean that I can’t see the disadvantages of it as well, for me it’s about which model will work best for us now.’

The Government Work Plan has become part of the parlance of politicians, but Deputy Soulsby acknowledged that it had not really set the public alight.

But she felt the name of the plan let people know what it was about.

‘We talked about this and we decided no, because it does what it says on the tin, you could give it a fancy title but actually I think it turns people off. We’ve had the Future Guernsey plan, then we had Revive and Thrive, and that sounds great, but we thought it’s more important what’s in it than what the title is.’

The plan is set to be discussed at the next States meeting, which starts tomorrow.