09 June 2017
The States of Jersey’s Financial Report and Accounts for 2016 have been published today by the Treasury and Resources Minister, Senator Alan Maclean. They show improved income from personal taxation and higher than average investment returns, resulting in net assets that grew from £5.9 billion in 2015 to £6.2 billion in 2016.
The States of Jersey Group accounts include funds like the Strategic Reserve and Social Security funds, and wholly owned subsidiaries like Andium Homes and Ports of Jersey, as well as taxation and departmental income and spending as approved by the States Assembly. The Group figures show a surplus of income over expenditure amounting to £307million in 2016, compared with a deficit of £42 million in 2015.
Results for States Departments and General Revenues (taxation) show that after taking into account depreciation, spending of £739 million exceeded income in 2016 by just £2 million, compared with £50 million in 2015. The increased income came from higher than expected personal income tax, driven by economic growth in 2015 and 2016, and record private sector employment.
The Treasury and Resources Minister, Senator Alan Maclean, said “These accounts show the continued strength of Jersey’s finances. 2016 saw improved income from personal taxation, driven by the strong economic growth we have seen in the last two years. We also saw excellent investment performance, which led to considerable growth in the Strategic Reserve and Social Security Funds. It is these investment returns that are largely responsible for our healthy balance sheet, which show net assets at £6.2 billion.
“Departmental spending remained broadly at 2015 levels, which represents a real terms reduction. Staff have been transforming the way they work, making efficiencies and savings while continuing to provide high quality services to Islanders. The combination of this spending constraint and strong income growth has effectively balanced the books, even after allowing for depreciation. This leaves Jersey with the resilience of stronger reserves to face the uncertainties faced by BREXIT and the resources to take advantage of any opportunities that will emerge.”
Departments across the States underspent their 2016 budgets by £33.9 million (4.6% of the total budget). £7 million of that is for projects whose funding is already agreed, and £6 million is from the Income Support budget, as there were fewer claimants than anticipated as a result of reduced unemployment.
Departments are entitled to carry forward 1% of their underspent budgets to help them plan further ahead than a single year. They must put in a bid to the Treasury Minister if they want to retain any more than that, to ensure that resources are used effectively to achieve value for money.
The Treasury Minister has approved the following amounts to be carried forward to 2017 budgets
£12 million into reserves and contingencies
- £4 million of this provides more flexibility for Social Security in case claimant numbers increase more than expected
- £3 million is being transferred into the Long Term Care Fund to pay for ongoing claims
£5 million is allocated to Health and Social Services to replace the funding that is no longer being transferred from the Health Insurance Fund
£3.2 million funded a non-consolidated pay award of up to £500 per eligible employee for 2016
£6.9 million is for departments to fund additional spending requirements, as well as funds of £7.4m for previously agreed projects.
Initiatives that this funding provides for include
- demolition of the old cable car station
- investment in Children’s Services systems
- climate risk assessment
- Jersey Pupil Premium
- disposal of asbestos at La Collette
- investment in infrastructure
- providing schools with the freedom to manage the timing difference between academic and financial years
- sports travel grants
Senator Maclean said “Each department has met the savings targets set in the Medium Term Financial Plan, which saw £12.7 million removed from cash limits in 2016. The underspent budgets can now be reallocated to projects that need support and to strengthen our contingencies and reserves to help manage uncertainties that lie ahead."
The Fiscal Policy Panel’s economic assumptions have improved slightly. They expect real economic growth to be around 1% higher in 2016 and 2017 than previously forecast in September 2016.
There have been no changes in assumptions beyond 2018, other than an expectation of slightly higher interest rates. The panel has confirmed that the medium term challenges and outlook for Jersey’s economy remain unchanged and that the government should continue to support the economy in the short-term and implement the measures outlines in the Medium Term Financial Plan to deal with any structural imbalance by 2018/2019.
The Income Forecasting Group (IFG) has found that some of the income improvement in 2016 is recurring but some was exceptional. Corporate income tax, based on information provided by companies, is forecast to be down in 2017. Early information suggests 2017 forecasts for all other income areas are more robust.
The IFG continues to emphasise the need to include flexibility within future financial planning, given the uncertainty and the range of income tax forecast.
Examples of uncertainty
- impact of EU and OECD international tax initiatives
- impact of changes to UK tax policy
- impact of UK banking sector reforms and changes in interest rates on banking profits
- impact of UK Brexit negotiations
- shareholder income, interest rates, employment levels
Senator Maclean concluded “I am pleased to present these accounts and income forecasts, which show that States finances remain strong with broadly balanced books. We have seen economic & employment growth, plus strong investment returns, leading to improved income in 2016.
“A stronger base of personal income tax is encouraging for future years, and leaves us well placed to compensate for global uncertainties and the volatility of company tax receipts, which indications suggest will reduce in 2017.
“These positive results provide a buffer against future uncertainty and give us the resources to take advantage of any opportunities presented by these uncertainties. However we are anticipating reductions in corporate tax and one-off income cannot be relied upon for the future.
"We should not jump to the conclusion that the measures we have proposed in the MTFP to balance our budgets in should be changed. Indeed the commercial waste charges and a sustainable funding mechanism to pay for growing health costs remain fundamental to our balanced budget strategy. We must stick to our plans, as set out in the Medium Term Financial Plan and as advised by our panel of independent economic experts, if we are to maintain resilient and sustainable public finances for Jersey.”
States accounts in summary:
A strong balance sheet Jersey’s net assets grew from £5.9 billion in 2015 to £6.2 billion. This increase of £373 million was largely from investment returns. The Strategic Reserve saw returns of 13.5% in 2016, taking its balance from £771 million in 2015 to £820 million. The Social Security Funds increased in value by £287 million to £1.751 million, having achieved returns of more than 19%.
Growth in income general revenue income of £736.8 million in 2016, compared to £691.7 million in 2015, making an increase of £45.1 million. This was mostly down to personal tax and investment returns.
Spending constrained: £698.5 million spent by departments in 2016 compared to £697 million in 2015, with highest spending from Health and Social Services, Social Security and Education.
Capital spending: £41 million spent by departments, including a new police station (£12.6 million) roads, sewers and sea walls (£4.7 million) new recycling centre (£3.6 million) primary schools (£3.3 million) and hospital theatre upgrades (£2.6 million).
Andium Homes spent £11 million, including Walter Benest Court (£2.3m) (St Brelade), Windsor Court high rise (£4.6m) (St. Helier), Le Squez Phase 4 (£1.2m) (St Clement).
Savings: £12.7 million removed from department budgets as agreed as part of the MTFP savings targets.
Underspends: Departments spent £33.9 million less than they were allocated in 2016. £12 million of that has gone into reserves and contingencies, the rest has been allocated to fund continuing projects, anticipated spending pressures and a non-consolidated pay award for staff.
Read the States of Jersey Accounts in full.