Clarity on pay parity urgently needed

ATTEMPTS by Guernsey Party member John Dyke to seek greater clarity on what the States’ intentions are – and at what potential cost – when it comes to pay parity for public sector staff have taken on a fresh urgency.

Taken at face value, reference in the tax review green paper to achieving greater consistency in terms and conditions across different public sector staff groups could save up to £40m. a year of the £75m. Policy and Resources says it needs to raise.

Not so, say critics. Gender-based wage discrimination is a separate issue and not part of the tax review. That means it’s misleading to claim £40m. could be saved because it isn’t going to be spent in the first place. Any confusion is based on a promise that the Royal College of Nursing and others would eventually enjoy equal pay for work of equal value.

There are two problems here. The first is P&R is quite clear that the notional £35m.-£40m. cost of parity – of whatever flavour – was included in its calculations that the correct size of government here is now equivalent to 24% of GDP. Without that, what does that tax ceiling come down to?

The second has been raised directly by Deputy Dyke – what taxpayer or community benefit is there in pursuing the concept of equal work of equal value and who makes that comparison?

More widely, the underlying issue is that this level of ambiguity should not exist in an official document that is seeking to inform debate on future tax policy and that, if a goods and services tax is introduced, will affect every individual here.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the current interest in it, the figure wasn’t questioned when first published by the previous P&R committee in January 2020 and has been presented as fact in the green paper.

Clearly this uncertainty is unsatisfactory and needs clarification. The States accounts are widely criticised for being unclear and opaque and people reading the tax review have to be certain as to its precise meaning.

An early and comprehensive response to Deputy Dyke’s questions is urgently needed.

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