Candidate Questionnaire from Alternative for Jersey
All public departments (Healthcare, Housing, Education, Infrastructure water/waste/power/roads etc) are under increasing pressure, many of them are no longer able to cope with the quantity of people we have living in the Bailiwick of Jersey. What is your solution to the problems caused by overpopulation?
Would you like to:
i. increase the funding to departments to increase their capacity, build more houses, hospitals, schools etc OR
ii. would you like to see the overall population numbers reduced to a manageable quantity, OR
iii. some other solution of your own
How would you fund and implement your chosen option?
I want to see overall population numbers reduced to a sustainable level. Jersey already has a calculation made, which is well below 100K, but it may need re-assessing.
In any event, the population will not suddenly reverse its growth trend, so provision has to be made for continuing expansion of numbers. This is simply because Jersey now has internal population growth of around 250 per annum in addition to any immigration. Obviously, continued population expansion will lead to internal growth increasing, unless counter measures are instituted.
I say that on the basis that I consider our current economic strategy is fundamentally flawed by seeking to raise additional taxation for continued public services as a feature of bringing more and more people into Jersey. Fortunately, most of the enthusiastic supporters of this ruinous economic model have left government, but major damage has already taken place - mainly evidenced by our unreliable and regularly redrawn Island Plan, produced by a Planning Department that appears not to plan anything other than new development sites.
My initial solution to local population growth is to encourage smaller family sizes, by withdrawing child benefit beyond 2 offspring. This would not impact on anyone now, or likely to be born over this year.
Thereafter, first born would receive all existing benefits, 2nd child 50% of the initial amount and from child three, parents would be expected to take full financial responsibility. Parents would not be restricted in increasing their family numbers, BUT could no longer rely on further contributions from the tax payer apart from exceptional circumstances.
Depending on outcome, this concept could be extended to other areas, such as education and housing, subject to public consultation.
No funding is required. Reducing welfare hand outs is a net gain to Treasury revenue.
Everyone understands that all economies need a certain level of immigration. Would you be in favour of adopting new regulations such as those in many other similar sized Island jurisdictions like the British Overseas Territory, the British Virgin Islands (BVI)?
i. All new job vacancies must be advertised locally for a period of 3 months and all reasonable measures should be taken to find local (resident in the Bailiwick of Jersey) employees.
ii. Only if the above fails (they will need to prove its failure) may businesses be given licence to recruit externally and only for a maximum of 5-year contracts, after which the vacancies must become available and the above steps taken again.
I would support an approach along the lines indicated, but I would reserve judgement until the Island has a better understanding of what border controls United Kingdom (UK) is likely to operate post-Brexit. The UK remains responsible for our defence and is likely to insist that Jersey’s border arrangments at least match its own.
I would also offer a higher level of flexibility in employment options for businesses that offered comprehensive training courses for school leavers, whilst taking a harder line with those that make no effort to employ locally educated young people.
There would be areas of exception, such as the agriculture and hospitality industries, where local youth labour notoriously underperforms.
- Jersey has not had a census since 2011. We do not know how many people reside in the Island nor where they come from. Furthermore, we do not know the true reality of unemployment as the social security department will not add your name to the register unless the cause was mandatory redundancy. What are your thoughts on this?
The current general consensus is that our local population is somewhere between 110 and 120K and I would err toward the higher figure, in respect of future planning.
The example offered is just one of many failings linked to the Social Security Department which, in my opinion, needs a serious review of operations and policies. Such a review was promised for last Christmas, so I imagine it is close to final drafting - although (perhaps deliberately) - much too late for consideration at these elections.
I suspect significant “cheating” as well as many missing out on their entitlements will berevealed.
I understand enormous numbers of cheques are posted to various destinations outside the Island and this needs some close analysis, as I find it questionable - at minimum - that we are paying at Jersey rates into countries where welfare payments are much lower. Our welfare system was not designed for the “pump priming” of economies in other jurisdictions.
- Many people feel that, for a very long time there has been deliberate attempt from various members of the States of Jersey to make the Island more like the UK. As a result, there has been what many describe as a form of cultural and social vandalism known as “de-Jerseyfication”. What would you do to stop and reverse this trend, or do you not think it is an issue at all?
I think “de-Jerseyfication” sounds like a word invented by the very people who threaten to undermine our local culture, heritage and language.
I consider the erosion of the Jersey way of life to be an extremely important subject that is continuously and, sometimes, deliberately overlooked.
The worst culprits generally come from the UK and some actually hold Jersey people, the “Beans” or “Crapauds”, in complete contempt and as a subject of mocking amusement. By contrast, immigrants from European countries and further overseas tend to respect our culture and traditions to the extent that they deliberately do not take part in local politics, recognising it as the business of the native population.
I would refrain from tackling the Jersey/ UK relationship until post-Brexit, other than to note how ridiculous it is that we have such high dependency on a country nearly 100 miles away, when a very prosperous and globally significant country is actually in sight on our Eastern horizon, just 15 miles away.
Jersey should have a much nore harmonious relationship with both Brittany and Normandy and I am convinced that one of the key reasons that we fail to have closer and more profitable relations is simply down to the Anglicisation of our civil service. Basically, many of our key public servants can’t speak French and I would like to see a fundamental understanding that promotion above a certain level will - in future - include recognition of French language skills, especially in departments where interaction with “nos cousins Francais” is likely.
- How high on your agenda is preserving and protecting Jersey’s heritage?
In my previous service as a St Helier Deputy sitting on the Tourism Development Fund Committee (2002 - 2005), I was the political driving force behind what is now known as “Jersey Heritage Holiday Lets”. Initial capital investment has turned this project into a hugely profitable venture. As an example, the Corbiere Radio Tower - Marinepeilstäden unde Maßstellen (Direction and range finding tower for coastal artillery batteries) - was historically audited and then both converted and restored at a cost of some £150K. That was over 10 years ago and the 3 double bedroom accommodation (all with adjoining shower and toilet) is now rented to visitors at over £2,200 per week in peak holiday season.
The entire scheme is not only making money for future historical restorations, but also generates extremely positive media interest in Jersey - including coverage by the globally viewed and repeated BBC “Coast” programme, providing publicity for the Island that money simply cannot buy.
I think my enthusiasm for Jersey’s heritage and history is fairly clear.
- We read regularly in the media about the rise of poverty in the Island. How do you think we should tackle this issue?
If you wish to understand “POVERTY”, I suggest you travel to Africa, India and the Far East or risk a tour of the “favelas” in the back streets of South American cities.
THERE IS NO POVERTY IN JERSEY. What we have in Jersey is something called “relative poverty”, which is a measure of how much the least well off section of our community compares to the most well off. Clearly there will be a significant difference in an Island that actively seeks multi-billionaires as local residents!!
Consequently, there is no “poverty” issue to tackle, but there is a problem with allowing these half truths to become “established facts” and the cynical behaviour of a limited number of politicians who, quite deliberately, falsify the true situation in order to worry the more credulous members of our community into voting for them.
Having cleared up the fabrication aspect of this question, I do have a series of policy approaches directly targeted at the less well off that can be broadly summarised as; helping hand up as opposed to “handouts” and re-cycling money within the local economy. As an example, I would favour the concept of a minimum “living wage”, which would have negligible impact on high earners, but would assist low earners - who are more likely to spend locally, thus boosting the economy.
- Since 2008, Jersey has lost 10,000 tax payers and now relies on 40,000 tax payers to keep the Island running, this figure includes pensioners. What are your thoughts on how to prevent more working age people leaving and encouraging those who have left to return?
I regret that I struggle with this unexplained statistic of the “lost 10,000 tax payers”. If, indeed these are all local people, with housing qualifications, anxious to return to Jersey, then our population growth problem is far worse than the latest estimations of an additional 26,000 residents by 2035.
It is possible that the figure refers to our young school leavers attending university degree courses outside the Island, for which we retain accurate statistics. In short, 25% of successful graduates do not return to Jersey, but seek their fortunes all around the planet. Of the 75% who do come back, one third subsequently leave Jersey within 2 years having discovered the limitations on lucrative employment and the true cost of daily living in the Island.
I intend, if elected, to put forward a proposition to reward those of our locally educated graduates who bring their skills back to the Island via a tax rebate on their local earnings. This measure would apply, with limited restrictions, to all those who did not receive a full grant (plus maintenance allowance) when they commenced their studies. Additionally, as we are now dealing with adults, there would be no linked assessment of parental income.
I would intend to backdate this programme to accommodate all graduate returnees who were not supported by States of Jersey funding as outlined above. This “other end of the telescope” approach gives local tax payers the desired outcome of funding higher education - as opposed to the current situation, where 50% of tax payers “investment” is likely to disappear and not be seen again in an employment context.
- The average wage in Jersey is on a decline yet the cost of living and inflation are rising out of control, as a result, Jersey is becoming un-affordable for many to remain here. What action would you take to remedy this?
Sorry, but we are in “snowflake land” here. The same as investments in money markets, the economy goes up and down AND around - and so do wages and prices. There is no “magic money tree”, BUT there is a fundamental issue. Property prices are “through the roof” and rentals are unaffordable because the prices are artifically inflated by TOO MANY PEOPLE LIVING IN A SMALL ISLAND AND COMPETING AGAINST EACH OTHER FOR SPACE!!
Injecting more cash into the situation simply puts the prices up further and artificial restrictions - say rent control - only create temporary respite, but fail to tackle the underlying economic fundamentals.
Solutions include, reducing the size of the population, increasing the size of Jersey (major reclamation scheme), reducing dependence on the financial services industry by diversifying the economy - in fact a range of options that are NOT the local equivalent of “quantitative easing”, which creates “false wealth” that needs to be paid off.
Our government, ever eager for the easy option - so as not to upset the voters - decided to borrow money (after decades of balancing the books). At the Senatorial Hustings in 2014, I advised voters that Jersy was over £1 Billion in debt (information derived from the Council of Ministers). Poker faced ministers seeking re-election passed no comment and were rewardwed with a return to office. Weeks later I was proved correct.
I estimate that borrowing is now circa £1,500,000,000 and rising. Doubters may like to check the health of our pension funds - which some people advise me is NOT a debt.Last time I looked, some years ago, the pension funds were not due to be paid up until past 2080 and I suggest that this figure is likely to have stretched into the 21 Hundreds. When something is not paid up it means that money is owed - something I define as a debt.