15 July 2008
Protecting all aspects of Island life, maintaining high quality public services and providing proper support to vulnerable members of the community are the driving forces behind the States Annual Business Plan for 2009, which is published today.
States Annual Business Plan
The 3.1 % overall increase in spending is less than the rate of inflation and accords with the spending target agreed by the States in last year’s Business Plan.
The spending plans take into account the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on States spending and reflect Scrutiny’s comments on the Council of Minister’s draft proposals.
Within the Business Plan, additional funds have been found for:
- 2% real growth in Health and Social Services
- a further £1 million for the Prison Improvement Plan
- £0.4 million for new GST allowances for those low income families falling between the Income Support and Income Tax systems
- a 5% increase in Overseas Aid
- an extra £0.25 million to maintain adequate border controls and
- an additional £0.4 million for pupils with special needs at Mont a L’Abbe
In addition, in line with the commitment given last year and of particular relevance at this time, benefits for the less well off will be fully index-linked to insulate them from inflation, including food and fuel increases.
However, there are a number of areas where the Council of Ministers considers there is justification for further spending, but this is constrained because the funding is not available. This includes items such as nursery education, increased waste recycling, additional vocational training for people with special needs, additional resources to enhance Jersey’s international representation and a growing backlog of maintenance of roads and buildings.
Chief Minister, Senator Frank Walker, commented: ‘The Council of Ministers remains firm in its determination to deliver a sustainable long-term future for our community and our finances. The programmes set out in this plan meet the spending plans set by the States. We will all have to consider very carefully whether and how the unmet spending pressures could be funded in the future. This document shows that while keeping within the spending limits set by the States for 2009, we have been able to fund a number of additional initiatives – of course we would have liked to do more, but are restricted by financial pressures.’
Treasury and Resources Minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur, said that: ‘The financial forecasts show we are on target to achieve our objective of balanced budgets over the medium term without any further tax increases. We must, however, not return to the unsustainable increases in public spending of the past, as this would not only add to inflationary pressures, which would damage our economy, but also inevitably lead to additional taxation.’
‘The Council of Ministers will continue to monitor changes in economic indicators, particularly the RPI, in the light of wider economic circumstances. However, any increase in spending would involve revisions to cash limits or serious reductions in essential services, particularly in health and education.’
Senator Le Sueur continued: ‘A key influence on our ability to stick to the Business Plan is the provision for public sector pay awards in 2009 to exclude the effects of GST and to be limited to 2 per cent.’