Alderney States members say ‘yes’ to goods and service tax
ALDERNEY States members have said ‘yes’ to a goods and services tax because they agree the accompanying proposals for tax and social security reform in the Tax Review will benefit most on the island, where the median income is almost £10,000 less than in Guernsey.
Alderney will have two votes in Guernsey’s parliament this week when Policy & Resources presents the case for introducing a new 15% income tax band, a universal social security allowance and increases to pensions and benefits, as well as a GST at 5%.
On Saturday, as dozens of islanders turned up to the P&R drop-in at the Butes Centre, States member Lin Maurice said she and her fellow Alderney politicians were all behind the package of reforms.
‘All the States members are for it,’ she said.
‘It’s a complete tax restructure and the benefits outweigh the GST.’
Kevin Gentle confirmed his support.
‘The whole package suits the majority of the island of Alderney,’ he said.
‘Our median wage is £27,220 and Guernsey’s is £37,000. Straight away, we’re looking at tax cuts for all of those under £30,000 and an increase in personal income tax allowance, and GST is just one small part of the package.’
The proposals also seemed to find favour with those who turned up to speak directly to the Guernsey politicians driving the changes.
Deputies Peter Ferbrache, Mark Helyar, Dave Mahoney and Peter Roffey – along with Guernsey States Treasurer Bethan Haines – were kept busy from the arrival of the first islanders – a few minutes ahead of the advertised start time of 10am – until half an hour after the finish time of noon.
‘I think it’s gone pretty well,’ Deputy Mahoney said.
‘It was very well attended with a broad demographic turning up. I think everyone accepts there is a funding gap – it’s just how that gap is filled.
‘I’m very chuffed with the sort of engagement that the Alderney people have had with us.’
Retiree Nigel Clarke attended to ask about exemptions for children’s clothing and food, online shopping and government efficiencies, but was convinced the P&R proposals were the best way forward.
‘The reality is, whether you like it or not, I don’t think they’ve really got another option,’ he said.
‘Some of the alternatives I’ve heard put forward are just going to chew around the edges and just push the thing down the road.’
He said he hoped the Alderney representatives would back the plans ‘unless they’ve got some viable alternative which realistically, and in the timescales, can address the deficit in question’.
Jan Walker said her concerns about petrol and food prices had been addressed.
‘I feel a bit more confident in their reasons and the way they’re going about it,’ she said.
‘Talking with Peter Roffey, he doesn’t want GST either but we’ve got to do something.’
Tony Haywood had fears over the administration of the new tax, worrying that staff would be ‘so inundated with work, that they’ll just have to assume the forms have been filled in correctly’.
However, he said Ms Haines had ‘all the answers’ and that Deputy Roffey had been ‘very well versed’ in the subject.
The P&R members of the Guernsey delegation also held a meeting with Alderney States members on Friday evening.