Higher taxes warning – 'we have no choice'

NEWS of tax increases should be on the way in the next few weeks, the island’s lead treasury politician said yesterday.

Policy & Resources treasury lead Deputy Mark Helyar. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29793035)
Policy & Resources treasury lead Deputy Mark Helyar. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29793035)

As the States rejected a proposal to defer adoption of more NHS-approved drugs – carrying an annual cost of between £5-8m. – Deputy Mark Helyar gave the strongest signal yet that tax increases are inevitable in a fiscal review which he is due to bring to the Assembly in September.

The tax review started last year. Deputy Helyar, as the leader of the Guernsey Party, campaigned against tax increases in the run up to October’s election.

‘I will be standing up in September and I will be recommending tax amendments and changes and I hope that I’m able to carry the House with me,’ he said.

‘I didn’t stand on a platform of raising tax, but I’ve been faced with a problem, an insurmountable problem, in terms of future funding of this government’s activities, which mean that we pretty much have no choice.’

Deputy Helyar supported a compromise amendment, put together by P&R, but the States backed Deputy Peter Roffey’s attempt to put the Nice TA drugs back on the schedule agreed by the previous States in January 2020, with more expensive drugs to be introduced before a review of the strategy in a couple of years’ time.

He said the next phase required appropriate advice and data.

‘We should demonstrate to the public that we can make responsible, financial decisions, we will demand value for money with what we spend, and we will not raise taxes without doing that in a way which can be absolutely substantiated.’

Campaigners pushing the case for retaining access to the Nice TA drugs welcomed the States’ vote yesterday. ‘Obviously the decision is very pleasing,’ said Mike Read, chairman of Health Equality for All [Heal].

‘The great danger was that all the work that had been done last year to get that commitment for Nice TA drugs would have been lost under the Government Work Plan.

‘A debate was important. P&R and HSC must take “us” on that journey over the next year.’

Mr Read said that Heal would continue to take a close interest in the ongoing debate now to secure funding for the drugs and treatments.

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