Guernsey Press

‘Health will be at centre of our economic growth’

HEALTH will be at the centre of how the island encourages economic growth, according to the politician driving the Government Work Plan.

Policy & Resources vice-president Deputy Heidi Soulsby was its lead on the Government Work Plan. (Picture by Cassidy Jones, 29785812)

Heidi Soulsby was delighted that the States approved overwhelmingly last week expenditure of some £650m. over the life of this Assembly, and she hoped that the pandemic will be seen as an inflection point towards a healthier future.

The GWP features a number of ‘recovery actions’ and priorities for the States.

‘I don’t see each individual recovery action in isolation,’ Deputy Soulsby said.

‘I think it’s the way they deal with the wider determinants of health, having spent so long at Health & Social Care and understanding that health is not just about what we do there, it’s often been about picking up the pieces.

‘Now this is about prevention, early intervention and those wider determinants of health which will make islanders’ lives better.’

Among the 10 recovery actions agreed by deputies were tackling the housing crisis, establishing a mental health centre, starting the reorganisation of education, and upping skills and knowledge in the community.

Deputy Soulsby said ‘the real hard work starts now’. She was aware that the electorate felt that the clock was ticking on government and they expected to see results soon.

‘For the top 10 recovery actions we’re saying that we’ve got to make tangible progress over the next six months,’ she said.

‘Work has already started on a lot of these anyway, so it’s not as if we’re starting from scratch, we’ve hit the ground running already. An example is the housing action group.

‘We know there’s a huge priority that we’ve got to deal with there, and that is already being addressed.

‘It was really important that we could put a mark in the ground and say “this is what we’re going to do”.

‘We’ve got the certainty and we’ve got the ability to make it happen.’

P&R facilitator not dictator – vice-president

DURING two-and-a-half days of States debate, the Policy & Resources Committee faced allegations of a ‘power grab’ and a back door move towards executive government.

But its vice-president, Heidi Soulsby, said P&R was not the bad guy.

‘Throughout the whole process Policy & Resources has acted as the facilitator, not a dictator, and the whole process has been one where we’ve taken members with us.

‘We’ve had briefings and workshops and got their reviews as we’ve built this up, together with the business community and the third sector, we really tried to put in stuff that people wanted to see done.

‘Getting the balance right is a very difficult job because it’s the whole of government and trying to get consensus, but we’ve done that now and we’ve got the Assembly’s plan, it’s not Policy & Resources’ plan.

‘We’ve seen overwhelming support for the propositions and so now we’re asking States members to get behind it to make it happen.’

Deputy Soulsby also thanked the civil servants who had helped bring the plan together.