They built our Guernsey – not caused tax hike

IT WAS a comment that many know was built on misunderstanding, but it is easy to work out how some of this island’s more senior citizens have taken umbrage at the proposal from the States to raise taxes, saying it is needed to address Guernsey’s ageing demographic issues.

David Inglis, chairman of Guernsey’s Age Concern, says that his are worried about the prospect of paying extra taxes, and understandably so, they also feel that they are being ‘blamed’ for the need for taxes to go up.

Of course that is not true. If anything it is their children, even their grandchildren, our own baby boomers and Generation X, which will tip the ratio between workers and the retired to a position where the island will struggle to cope financially.

We should not forget that the post-war generation are the islanders who built modern-day Guernsey. Those who lived through the Occupation and suffered the deprivations and struggles. Those who were evacuated for five long years, in many cases separated from their parents.

Those who rebuilt Guernsey and re-established thriving horticulture and hospitality industries.

They didn’t do this working for global business with generous benefit schemes and pensions. They did it in their own back yards or with small local businesses. They then often held down a second job in the evenings, perhaps in the tourism sector.

Guernsey’s reputation for stubborn islanders who worked hard to set themselves up and made the best of what they had was well-deserved and it came from these generations. We may have been fortunate that financial services seamlessly replaced horticulture as our dominant industry, but that did not help all these people, some of whom fell on hard times as their industries and markets collapsed.

Some are asset-rich and cash-poor. Some are just rather poor. However they will hold on to the belief that their hard work earned them what they have today and will want to hold on to it.

This generation do not deserve to be hit by tax rises – and they certainly do not need to feel that they are to blame for government’s current financial challenges.

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