21 April 2015
The Council of Ministers believes the future of Jersey depends on a government that prioritises and delivers effectively and efficiently.
The draft Strategic Plan prioritises the key issues Ministers believe will deliver a better future for all. The four priority areas are health, education, economic growth and St Helier.
Ministers want to continue the transformation of health and social services so all Islanders can be cared for, raise standards in education and boost economic growth to create new jobs and businesses and increase States income to pay for services. St Helier is also a priority, ensuring the town will become a place where people aspire to live, enjoy working and want to visit.
Ministers are determined to achieve all this while maintaining low taxes and balanced budgets.
A number of measures are being proposed to reprioritise budgets to pay for these priority areas. Ministers are working to boost economic growth, to reduce spending in some areas to invest in health, education, and they are investigating options for a health charge.
The latest forecasts show that in order to maintain existing services, fund the priority areas of health, education and economic growth and to allocate funding for capital spending, there would be a funding gap of £125 million by 2019.
The Chief Minister said "Jersey distinguishes itself from many other jurisdictions by having prepared and provided for the future and therefore avoided meeting funding challenges by debt. This is what we have always done and it is the right thing to do.
"The effects of the global recession have lasted longer than expected and our income is not rising as fast as it has in the past. We know services for an ageing population will cost more, and those services will be funded from the taxes of a smaller working population.
"We now have to reprioritise our spending so we can put the money where we really need it. Working differently will help fund our priorities. There are tough decisions ahead, but the public sector will come out the other side in better shape."
The Treasury and Resources Minister, Senator Alan Maclean, said "We need to transform the way we care for the increasing numbers of older people and continue to invest in important capital projects. This is essential spending and it will require reprioritisation of existing budgets as well as significant change in the way the public sector operates. We have to plan for the future and that requires investment now.”
Ministers plan to use a variety of measures to ensure funding is available for their priority areas:
- boosting economic growth, encouraging business start-ups and creating jobs
- working with staff and unions to restructure the public sector:
- ceasing to provide some services and redesigning others
- merging departments
- exercising pay restraint
- reducing duplication
- removing unnecessary regulations
- providing flexible office accommodation so staff can work where they are needed
- changes to benefits - promoting financial independence
- investigating options for a health charge
The Fiscal Policy Panel has recommended that Ministers should aim to balance revenue and current expenditure over the economic cycle, while continuing to invest, particularly in infrastructure to support productivity improvements and competitiveness.
The millions of pounds allocated to the Back to Work team and other jobs and growth initiatives will be maintained, to keep islanders in work and stimulate economic growth.
The reform programme has laid the foundations for this reprioritisation, by setting up systems for e-government, implementing a business improvement (Lean) methodology throughout the States to help streamline processes, progressing Workforce Modernisation to ensure the workforce is flexible in the future, restructuring some departments and planning office rationalisation.
A variety of measures are planned to meet the funding challenge, including, working across departments, redesigning services and reducing duplication and unecessary regulation.
These measures will take that programme to the next stage, and help ensure the available funds go where they are most needed.
As around half of the public sector’s spending is on staff, Ministers recognise that reducing headcount is one way of contributing to the overall savings. The need for compulsory redundancies will be minimised by leaving posts vacant when staff leave or retire, and by offering voluntary redundancy when services are redesigned. This work will be done in partnership with trade unions and through active engagement with staff.
Senator Gorst added "This is an organisation-wide reprioritisation exercise to reduce spending in some areas so we can invest in others. The money will be targeted on boosting growth, educating islanders, caring for our ageing population and maintaining essential infrastructure. Our proposals will limit the required increase in spending, while funding our priorities and balancing the books, but they will not reduce overall spending."
Senator Maclean added "We have already announced our intention to combine the Home Affairs Department with parts of the Chief Minister’s Department, and we have moved Property Holdings to the Transport and Technical Services Department. Now we are reviewing the Financial Services, External Relations and Economic Development functions. We are looking at the organisation as a whole and we are considering how we can do more for less.
"We are pooling our resources across the organisation to find new ways to deliver high-quality services more efficiently, to deliver reform, not just in our output but in the culture of our work. Our reform programme was established to keep spending under control and to develop a flexible, modern public sector that is ready for the challenges ahead. These measures will take that programme to the next stage."
Work has begun on investigating options for a sustainable way to fund the growing costs of healthcare.
Financial forecasts will continue to be reviewed to ensure that when figures are published as part of the next Medium Term Financial Plan in June, they are as up to date as possible.