Guernsey Press

Big issues were Covid, Brexit, Government Work Plan and tax

Two years after the 2020 General Elections, the main States committees have been sharing with the Guernsey Press what they think they have achieved and what their priorities are before the next election in summer 2025. The series starts with comments from Policy & Resources

The serious risk from Covid dominated the early days of this political term. Even in January 2022, when the committee faced Scrutiny Management, the mask being worn by vice-president Deputy Heidi Soulsby is a reminder of that. President Deputy Peter Ferbrache had removed his mask to talk. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 31347086)

THE Policy & Resources Committee, like all areas of the new government, came into its role with the Covid pandemic still a serious risk to the health of the community, and before the roll-out of the vaccine.

The second lockdown, which came just a few months into the political term, meant the need to support the workers and businesses affected and ensure they could survive the extraordinary circumstances.

In doing so, it was able to help position the economy to quickly bounce back after the lockdown ended.

In its first 100 days following the election, the committee also worked to represent the Bailiwick’s interests in the final Brexit transition negotiations, before the UK-EU deal was agreed, providing a stable basis for our ongoing relationship with the EU.

At the same time, early in the term, the committee began coordinating the overall work of government by developing the

Government Work Plan, focusing on outcomes to be achieved through a more streamlined set of priorities and removing some of the outstanding and unneeded work that had ‘sat on the shelf’.

The GWP means the States can now co-ordinate work on critical areas such as transformation in schools, in healthcare; preparation for Moneyval inspections, sustainable housing and energy, to name a few.

Alongside this, the committee has been taking on the challenge of reforming the island’s tax system in order to secure the future funding of public services.

Proposals will be debated by the States for a second time in January, following extensive public engagement earlier this year, discussions with industry and political colleagues and further work exploring all of the options including how we tax businesses.

The outcomes of all that work will be released next month ahead of the next States debate.

While that is crucial to the long-term funding of services, we have more short-term issues to deal with as the rising cost of living and especially the cost of housing continues to be a major issue.

In next year’s Budget, published last week, the committee has included recommendations to help those on lower incomes through increased personal allowances, the freezing of TRP for most homes and pausing the phasing out of mortgage interest relief, funded by increases for those most able to pay.

This term has also seen the committee provide funding for new sites for the development of affordable housing; invest in the roll-out of fibre broadband across the island; and work on building even stronger relationships with Alderney and Sark.

And in the past few weeks, the committee was extremely pleased to

secure a new reciprocal health agreement with the UK allowing residents from each jurisdiction to access medically necessary healthcare free of charge when visiting the other; and we very much look forward to this coming into effect next year.