13 March 2018
The Minister for Social Security, Deputy Susie Pinel, has today published an independent report on the results of the Living Today: Thinking Ahead consultation which forms part 2 of a major review into the Social Security scheme and which looks in more detail at some existing contributory benefits.
Changes to benefits
This second part of the review considered possible changes to bring existing contributory benefits in line with the needs of modern families and asked for public feedback about working age contributory benefits provided for new parents and following a death.
Deputy Pinel said, “We needed to understand the public’s views on working age contributory benefits so that we can continue to provide a scheme that reflects the way we live today and that people will continue to value over the years ahead.”
“I am very pleased at the level of interest in these issues and would like to thank the 2,675 members of the public who chose to contribute to the Living Today: Thinking Ahead review either through Apptivism, the online survey or by attending a workshop”.
The results demonstrate very positive support for retaining these contributory benefits.
- more than 8 out of 10 respondents wanted to keep the bereavement benefits (Survivor’s Allowance, Survivor’s Pension and Death Grant)
- more than 7 out of 10 respondents wanted to keep the parental benefits (Maternity Allowance, Maternity Grant and Adoption Grant)
- more than 8 out of 10 people were against means testing these benefits
These results are in line with the response to the first consultation (2016: Living Longer: Thinking Ahead) which confirmed strong support for maintaining the old age pension.
The growth in the number of pensioners will increase the cost of the Social Security scheme in coming years. Last year, respondents suggested tightening benefit rules as one way to help to cope with this extra cost. This view was reinforced in the latest survey with more than 7 out of 10 respondents agreeing that people should have to pay contributions for a longer period before being able to claim a contributory benefit, with five years being the most popular option.
The 2017 survey also included two questions on increasing the generosity of benefits, providing a parental allowance for longer and paying a higher value of death grant. In both cases opinions were fairly evenly split between keeping the benefit as it is and providing a more generous benefit.
The consultation included eight workshops and a number of additional themes emerged from these discussions. Key ideas included:
- there was strong support for higher earners and employers to pay more contributions on higher wage levels
- the eligibility rules for benefits are too complicated
- new residents in Jersey face a confusing set of rules around accessing benefits and services after different periods. These should be simplified.
Further work will be undertaken in 2018 with all the results feeding into the next Strategic Plan of the new Council of Ministers and the Medium Term Financial Plan that will be agreed in 2019.
The Minister added: “I am confident that the approach we are taking will identify and evaluate the full range of viable options to maintain a sustainable Social Security Fund. I am equally confident that this work is being undertaken to a high standard and will be of great help to the next Assembly when they are asked to make decisions on possible changes to the Social Security system.
“I would like to thank the consultants who helped design the consultation, run the public and organisation workshops and provided this comprehensive report on the results of the consultation. I would also like to thank Apptivism for developing a chatbot, which allowed people to provide their views via their Facebook app allowing the public to engage with the department in a new and exciting way. “
You can read our Living Today: Thinking Ahead, part two consultation report or our Minister's overview and response to report.
For more information, visit our Social Security review pages.