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C&AG reports into Covid-19 business support schemes welcomed by Government

24 November 2021

Government has welcomed two reports, published today (Wednesday 24 November) by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), which assess the support given to businesses during Covid-19.

The C&AG, Lynn Pamment, found that the business support schemes were developed and implemented at pace, with appropriate consideration given to risk. Her reports also note that the schemes were not accessed by businesses to the degree anticipated by Government, recommend that post-payment audit checks are conducted as soon as possible, and that the schemes are formally evaluated against their planned objectives.

The Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said: “From the start of the pandemic, it was vital that livelihoods were protected and the Comptroller and Auditor General has recognised that we acted quickly to ensure that Jersey businesses could continue to operate in very difficult conditions. We will consider what we can learn from the report’s findings, and will continue to work with the C&AG in assessing Government’s response to Covid-19.

“When developing these schemes, we prepared for worst-case scenarios, and it’s good news that they were accessed by fewer businesses than we anticipated. The worst-case scenario was largely avoided because of the way in which Government, the businesses community and Islanders more generally responded to the pandemic. For some sectors, which are still affected, Government support will continue to help them to continue trading until spring of 2022, and the return to safe normality.”

The schemes which have been assessed are: 
  • Co-Funded Payroll Scheme
  • Fixed Cost Support Scheme
  • Business Disruption Loan Guarantee Scheme
  • Visitor Accommodation Support Scheme
  • Visitor Attractions and Events Scheme
Minister for Treasury and Resources, Deputy Susie Pinel, said: “These schemes represent a significant investment by Government and contributed to the continuity of hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs in Jersey. With the Co-Funded Payroll Scheme, some 16,481 employees received payments through claims made by 3,649 businesses at its peak in April 2020.   
“It is right for the schemes to have been reviewed, and I am pleased with the conclusions that have been made.”

Background information

In April 2020, at its peak, 16,481 employees received payments through claims made by 3,649 businesses – around one third of Jersey’s workforce.
£80,981,348 was paid out to businesses and the self-employed between March and August 2020
£21.7 million was paid to support around 5,000 jobs each month between September and December 2020
The report’s findings include:
  • The schemes were introduced with some urgency, with appropriate consideration given to risk, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to try to protect, as far as possible, the Jersey economy, survival of the businesses within it and the income of Jersey citizens.
  • It is important for Government to complete its planned post payment audit checks as soon as possible in order to recover any monies claimed fraudulently or in error. There remains a risk that errors and fraudulent payments are yet to be identified and that, if they are, it could be more difficult to recover monies due to the time lag since payment. 
  • It is also important for Government to undertake a formal evaluation as the CFPS ends to confirm its effectiveness in meeting planned objectives.
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