Guernsey Press

Budget reserve is exhausted - Trott

A warning has been issued to all States committee presidents that the money has run out in Guernsey.

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Deputy Lyndon Trott. (33349565)

Policy & Resources President Lyndon Trott, pictured, has written to committees with the latest information about the depletion of the island’s budget reserve, urging restraint, and he followed this up by addressing the situation in a speech on the States Accounts.

‘We’re not even at the end of June and the budget reserve is, to all intents and purposes, exhausted,’ he said.

‘This is due to several urgent and unplanned projects requiring funding but it means it will be difficult for Policy & Resources to approve any further requests from the budget reserve this year, unless compensated by delayed expenditure or underspends elsewhere.’

Alongside GST supporters like Deputies Mark Helyar and Peter Roffey, he reminded members that the current States had failed to address tax reform, and budget restraint would have to be a consequence.

He said the current situation, where Guernsey took only 21.4% of its GDP in taxes – far less than comparable jurisdictions – was not sustainable.

Presenting the 2023 accounts, Deputy Heidi Soulsby had described them as ‘the most comprehensive statement of our financial activity ever presented’.

She noted with concern that some frontline staff in social care had been earning more in overtime than their basic wage and pointed out that this could not be allowed to continue.

She welcomed a £10m. operating surplus but warned that members should not think that ‘all in the garden is rosy’.

Former P&R president Peter Ferbrache paid tribute to Deputy Helyar, praising his efforts in steering the island through a difficult period.

He noted that wages had risen by 1.4% ahead of inflation, and warned that islanders did not want to listen to messages of budget restraint or increased taxation.

‘I don’t think there are enough people in this House who have the courage to tell them,’ he said.

Deputy Helyar described the accounts as ‘looking a lot tidier’ but said the £10m. surplus was less relevant than a £56m. operating loss that could be shown, once the depreciation of assets had been taken into account.

‘This is going to catch up with us quite quickly,’ he said, warning that candidates at next year’s election would have to address the absolute need for increased revenues.

In his first speech in the assembly, Alderney representative Bruce Woodhead – deputising for Steve Roberts – thanked members for the ‘great services’ the northern island enjoyed.

He said that he and his fellow Alderney States members were ‘very aware’ of a £10.3m. annual deficit.