Guernsey Press

‘P&R’s approach to the tax review was the last straw’

THE Policy & Resources Committee’s approach to the tax review was ‘ultimately the last straw’ and triggered the resignation of its vice-president Heidi Soulsby.

Deputy Heidi Soulsby resigned from P&R last month. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 31520658)

The former deputy chief minister, who quit last month, said that after two years she had found life on the senior committee frustrating. She said at the time: ‘It has been obvious for quite a while that my views and advice have not been valued by some on the committee, and I think there is little point in me continuing in the hope that things may get better.’

Yesterday she outlined her reasons for resigning to the media.

‘Behaviours weren’t the reason I resigned. That was not enough for me to resign,’ she said yesterday.

‘The political approach to the tax review was ultimately the last straw.’

Deputy Soulsby is a qualified accountant but has also served on committees with a social element, particularly four years as president of Health & Social Care in the last political term. That insight convinced her that the approach, and the timing, of the tax review were wrong.

‘If you’ve never been on a social policy-based committee you don’t see how the actions of government really affect people. A lot of stuff from there has influenced me about inequality in society.

‘There is major inequality in our tax system and it needs to be more progressive than even what’s been produced. Bringing in GST on top of our current taxes with a bit of mitigation is not the way to solve it.

‘There may be a time when GST needs to be brought in, but now is a very bad time to do it.’

Asked if she would oppose the proposal in debate in January, Deputy Soulsby said: ‘An alternative is needed. The way it’s being done is wrong. And I am not alone in thinking that.’

Pressed if she would lead an alternative model, she added: ‘I think there needs to be one.’

Deputy Soulsby said she was also frustrated about a giveaway 2023 Budget which was now being used as the baseline for committee spending.

The deputy now has no committee responsibilities in the States and said she would not be seeking a seat on Education, Sport & Culture – she still opposes the post-16 model backed by the States last year – nor the Development & Planning Authority.

‘I like to be constructive. If there is a role to do anything, I would like to support people wanting to stand for the next States,’ she said.

Deputy Helyar elected as P&R vice-president

DEPUTY Mark Helyar has been elected as the new vice-president of Policy & Resources.

The committee’s treasury lead will also take on the post as deputy chief minister.

‘It is an enormous privilege for me to be elected as deputy chief minister,’ he said.

‘I look forward to carrying out this role alongside my responsibilities as treasury lead, particularly at this crucial time where we are preparing to debate our tax review recommendations.’

Policy & Resources has been putting forward its tax review proposals this week, with the policy letter published on Monday afternoon.

But Deputy Helyar has not been heading up the publicity.

‘Right at this moment, I’m recovering from an operation which is frustrating as I am not able to physically attend meetings and events, but I remain fully engaged and am participating remotely, and I hope to be back on my feet very soon,’ he said.

Deputy Bob Murray was elected to take on the seat which Deputy Soulsby left when she resigned.

He will be leading on corporate services and the Government Work Plan.

Deputies Jonathan Le Tocq and David Mahoney make up the rest of the P&R committee.