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Government of

Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

Chief Ministers Speech to the Chamber of Commerce

18 January 2023

​Opening Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to address the first Chamber lunch of 2023.

I hope that, like me, you are looking to the year ahead with optimism, aware of the challenges we will undoubtedly face but confident that we can meet them. Last week marked our six-month anniversary as your government so this is a great opportunity to reflect on that time and look ahead.

The Council of Minister’s and I enter this new year having put the groundwork in place to deliver our programme for change, and our focus is now on the tough issues that matter to Islanders and businesses. We only have 3 and-a-half years left to deliver for the Island, and the hard work has only just begun.

Our first months in office have been eventful for the Island as a whole We’ve made some progress, faced challenges, and, unfortunately, experienced terrible tragedies. July feels like a long time ago, we entered office full of hope and ready to get on and deliver for the Island.

During our first 100 days came the sad news of the death of our late Queen,  after her 70 years of exemplary service to country, commonwealth and faith, it was very moving to take part in the tributes and reflections of a remarkable woman. Soon after and as we celebrated our hundredth day in office and the success of our 18-point action plan, we observed the departure of Liz Truss from Downing Street. It was a reminder that not everyone sees their term of office to the end, so there can be no complacency or loss of focus. 

Then in December Jersey experienced a most terrible and shocking month. First losing a trawler, the L’Ecume II along with its Captain and 2 crew members. Then just two days later the explosion at Haut du Mont destroying a block of flats, damaging nearby buildings and taking the lives of ten people. The day after, a fire which killed one man. We then saw the loss, almost overnight, of five percent of the island’s dairy herd. 

We’ve seen that again in the past couple of days with the incidents of flooding which have impacted parts of the Island and again displaced people from their homes. Each of these tragic events have brought great sadness to us all, and of course we think first and foremost of those we have lost and their families. We also keep in mind those who have been displaced from their homes and we’re working hard to help them rebuild their lives.

But we also have good cause to reflect on the island’s response to those very different incidents. Each has required the support from our frontline services. The maritime search and rescue, the police, fire and rescue, ambulance, health care workers and of course the honorary police. Each and every one of those men and women have been tested and shown us how well prepared they are and how committed they are to serving this community and being there just when we need them. 

Of course, we have had to reach out to our neighbours for assistance, and they have not let us down either – our sister Bailiwick, our French neighbours and the UK have all sent people and equipment to support us in dealing with these terrible incidents.

 It’s often said that Jersey is a laid back, calm and relaxed community, enjoying our relatively quiet and safe position in the world. But it's through the difficult times and the greatest challenges in life that we learn the most about ourselves. And haven’t we discovered just what a strong and resilient community we are? We have something that is fast ebbing away in other places, a place where people look out for each other, care about each other…. and respect each other. 

That is something we should, and will, celebrate and protect. You may have heard of Greg Connor from St John, he lost his home through fire, a fire he thankfully escaped. Stunned by the kindness of people who wanted to help him in his hour of need by raising thousands of pounds for him, Greg told journalists, that we are ”a wonderful island.”

Simple words. Easy to say. But we have proven over the past six weeks that he is quite right, we are a wonderful island community, and we have a lot to cherish and be proud of. It’s not a coincidence that the Constable of St John has created the hashtag Coast, Countryside, Community.

This government has described our overarching goal of Jersey being a community where everyone can thrive. We have committed to taking actions in seven priority areas, but in essence it’s about improving people’s quality of life both for today and into the future, by ensuring our economy remains strong, that we plan for the future and take care of our beautiful environment.

Three and a half years may sound like a long time, but it isn’t – time slips away quickly in Government. That’s why it’s vital that we are aware of both the challenges we are going to face, what we need to do to address them and then to grasp some catalysts for change.

Tangible delivery is always the final, and hardest step, and we will achieve this through a relentless focus on the cost of living, housing and recruitment and retention, so that we can stabilise our workforce, economy and community. 

We have a formal programme for Government, the Assembly has agreed our Strategic Plan, adopted the Government Plan for 2023-26 which sets our fiscal framework, investing in key services for Islanders and focusing on value for money in the public sector. In addition, each Minister has published their priorities for 2023, which will be followed by Delivery Plans.

As a result, moving forward Islanders will have a clearer vision against which we can be held to account.

Supporting Islanders

Following the election, it was clear that we had to act on some critical areas where islanders wanted and needed to see change… and that’s not just in the engagement with them! 

The States agreed a mini-budget which was swiftly devised by Deputy Gorst, our Treasury Minister, and his capable team. That set in place targeted support to tackle the rising cost of living – which includes doubling the community costs bonus and winter fuel payments. The minimum wage was increased to £10.50, and we began work on dealing with our housing, population, and skills challenges.

So far, I would describe this as a tax-cutting Government for most working Islanders. To help people cope with the cost of living, we increased tax thresholds, so working Islanders can earn more money before they start paying tax. Alcohol and fuel duties are frozen and our actual and prospective national debt – which is taxation delayed for future generations – is down.

But we are serious about balancing the books and are asking some people to pay more:

  • Stamp Duty has increased for those purchasing property which they intend to “buy-to-let”
  • Tobacco duties are up
  • Contributions from those on the latest High Value Residency scheme have been increased. 

We feel this is the right balance to reflect this Government which is pro-business, and pro-enterprise. 

We want people to have more freedom to make their own choices, and to keep and spend their own hard earned money as they wish. Equally, we know there are challenges in ensuring we have sustainably and fairly funded public services for the future – services on which we all depend. But that they deliver value for money. 

We won’t shy away from those discussions, we’ll be honest with the Island, and we’ll take decisions that are in Jersey’s best long-term interests. 

The Hospital

One example of the Government putting this narrative into practice is our approach to the new hospital estate. We set out our position clearly during the election – which was to undertake a quick review of the options available. We’ve met our election commitment and avoided pursuing a project which was already over-budget, unaffordable, and would have inflicted a large, long-term debt on the Island.

After the Assembly backed our changes to the project’s funding in the Government Plan, Deputy Tom Binet will soon be able to ask the States to formally support our proposed way forward for affordable, deliverable and appropriate health facilities. Once that is agreed we will start to get on and start building, at least making way for our new health estate this year. 

In our next government plan we have committed to proposing a new sustainable health care funding mechanism. Health is an area where there is much to do and Deputy Wilson is leading a turnaround programme. The top priority has to be delivery of a stable workforce through improving culture and conditions. Essentially if we cannot treat our sick and teach our kids, why would any of you want to run a business here?

Looking to 2023 

As much as there is an endless diary of meetings, I try to meet Islanders daily, to engage as often and broadly as I can – a feature of my diary is finding time to be out in the community and in my constituency as much as possible. It is clear from these engagements that the focus of Islanders is on three main topics:

  • How we are supporting islanders with the cost of living 
  • Housing
  • Recruitment and Retention 

These are our three areas of relentless focus. 

I won’t pretend that these are easy topics to deal with, or that the policy answers are obvious.These are either locally ingrained problems, global problems, or both,  but I do believe that our island is well placed to innovate and find solutions. 

And there are exciting opportunities, particularly in the area of energy and technology.

Jersey people have always travelled far and wide and we are pleased to back Phil Sharp, a local yachtsman in his desire to race a hydrogen fuelled boat in the Vendee round the world race. It will be the only zero emission boat and it will have Jersey on the mainsail.

It’s important for Ministers not to shy away from tackling the difficult issues that matter to Islanders and we won’t, but we will represent the spirit of modern islanders. Otherwise, there’s not much point in us being here. In fact, I see our role as simply being the people of Jersey in the room. We have the honour to take evidence, read papers and decide what you all want us to do.

Cost of living

The Government here has only two main levers. We recognise that many of the price increases we see are a result of external factors – not to make things worse by unnecessarily increasing taxes, and by giving targeted support to those members of our community who require it.

Our support must be targeted and realistic – it simply isn’t possible for Government to support in every respect – we must be responsible and prudent whenever we are allocating taxpayers money. 


On housing, we need to deliver the additional affordable accommodation we require and Deputy Warr is totally committed to increasing home ownership. We have ongoing public and private sector projects, with further sites identified across the Island. If there is a prevailing view, which increasingly it seems there is, after voting against re zoning out of town, it now seems that members feel that St Helier has been taking the brunt of housing development for too long, then we must think harder about how we can invest in town to make it a better place for people to live, work and visit.

At the very least, this must mean placing a greater focus on more open space and high-quality education and community facilities, to support the people that already live here. To take the pressure off town, I have long favoured using derelict glasshouse sites for sustainable, swift building projects with linked community gardens. In 2023, we need to continue delivering new affordable housing where that has been agreed, and Andium are about to hand over 300 new homes by June with a further 700 under way. 

But we also must take the decisions as to where, and how, we are going to deliver all the homes we know we will need to house our community. That means ensuring that the right infrastructure is in place above and beneath ground.

We will start supporting first-time buyers with their purchases – utilising the £10 million that was set aside for this very purpose but has been sat dormant in Government accounts for far too long. 

St Helier

This is a good opportunity to mention my priorities for St Helier – which we will deliver, irrespective of whether more housing goes into our Capital Parish or not. 

When I leave office, I want St Helier to be cleaner and greener, a more enjoyable place to live and visit. That means more open green space, more trees, walking and cycling routes and community space, and I'd like to see fewer cars in St Helier. 

This all means we have decisions to make – about access in and to St Helier, our road network, car parks, and where we put new St Helier schools and other public infrastructure. Those decisions won’t all be universally popular, but one third of our population live in St Helier, and even more visit each day for work and leisure.

Parishioners in St Helier need, and deserve, an improved living environment. This can be a catalyst for change, in terms of supporting islanders to live healthier, more active lives.

Recruitment and Retention

Our third area of relentless focus is dealing with our recruitment and retention challenges. This impacts both the public and private sector. 

It means an honest conversation about our population – how we are going to remain fit for the future by raising revenue, servicing the needs of our community and driving the economy. For years our challenge has been controlling population growth – but now we are seeing significant vacancies in key areas of the economy. 

We see the result in our health and care systems, in retail, hospitality and other industries. Whilst the long-term aim is to achieve a stable population, frankly right now we need more people to be coming to work in Jersey. 

Key to achieving this is improving living standards in the Island – I can understand that families are not going to want to stay here if two parents are trying to bring up their children whilst holding down three or four jobs between them. 

That’s one reason why I committed in my manifesto, along with most other successfully elected candidates, to building a fair society where all workers are paid well for the work they do. Deputy Millar has already increased the minimum wage to £10.50 per hour. We are grateful to the Chamber of Commerce for your acceptance and engagement on this matter, including one particularly productive and swift meeting outside on Broad Street. 

As we look forward, I think we should start talking now about how this figure can rise further. An international benchmark is often set at 2/3 of average (median) wage - for Jersey this would be £12.50 an hour It remains my priority to get our minimum wage as close to this level as possible, and I am certainly not going to allow any slippage in the other direction. I know that this is a challenge for some business sectors, but broadly speaking I believe that most of industry is fully supportive of higher minimum wage rates, and I recognise that many businesses are already paying at this level and above. 

Wages are of course just one part of ensuring we can recruit and retain good people. Our immigration rules need to meet the Island’s needs, we need to provide decent and affordable housing and good quality public services. We need robust supply lines and regular transport links. And we need to ensure our people have the skills they need for the modern and future economy, including through upskilling and re-training where necessary. Government often asks for quite a lot from industry, but we must deliver what you need in return.

Criticisms of Government 

I know that, during our first six months in office, Ministers haven’t been immune from criticism. I don’t hide away from that, I don’t pretend some people aren’t happy with us, and I don’t think we’re perfect. But we are here to listen, engage and learn. 

We are making plenty of commitments, we are ambitious, and we’re taking on big topics. We accept that we aren’t going to be universally popular. But I will always do what I think is right for the majority of Islanders, what is right for our long-term interests and what is fair on the majority of our community. 


One recent criticism has been of our resilience, and our preparedness for future shocks and emergencies which might interrupt our supply chain. There are some commentators who are keen to make their points as publicly as they can, and indeed they would like us to purchase their services to work on this area of policy.

I don’t disagree with everything that is said – we can improve our resilience – and we are taking steps to do so. One of those is to improve our links with France, so that we’re not so reliant on our northern supply routes. Deputy Morel, Deputy Ozouf and I are working with our regional colleagues in Normandie and Brittany to deliver the changes that will increase that resilience.

However I can’t allow Islanders to be unnecessarily worried or concerned – we have good neighbours, a long constitutional relationship with the UK, good links, and our resilience is strong and robust. And we have talented people who are constantly working on emergency planning.

 Pay Award

We’ve also been criticised in some quarters for the 7.9% pay award which we have offered to our staff. It’s a fair offer which I stand by – below inflation, affordable and recognises the efforts and dedication of our employees.

I spoke earlier about living standards – and that applies to people in whichever area of the economy they work. Let’s face it, I know you all need people and we can’t let you have them all by eroding the wages of our people, so they all move to the private sector! 


I’m currently reading a fantastic book called The Myth of Normal, by Gabor Mate. It's one of those books that I am not looking forward to finishing because I know I will miss it. He talks about trauma, childhood, well-being and the importance of community and suggests that

“The more meaningful you find your life, the better your measures of mental and physical health are likely to be”

Mate cites loneliness as one of the great threats to human health and quotes the US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy who describes the human condition in the 21st Century as this:

“We compete for jobs and status. We compete over possessions, money and reputations. We strive to stay afloat and to get ahead. Meanwhile the relationships we prize often get neglected in the chase. “ I

’ve not come here today to preach to you, but I do hope that in your plans for the year ahead you might be able to find more time for friends, family and community. Because there is Moore2Do! 

Who ends their life wishing they had spent more time in the office or watching tv? There are so many areas of island life that could benefit from your skills and talents. The honorary police have vacancies in every parish, except In St John where there is a waiting list!

 Many of our youth groups need leaders to support them in their work that offers those valuable experiences that enrich a young person’s life and gives them greater perspective and opportunities to develop skills and talents that we will need in the workforce of the future. There are charities that could benefit from your skills on their board. 

Every connection we build helps not only to enhance our own life experience, but improves our mental health and also strengthens our community. 

So with that in mind, I look forward to working together across the community throughout 2023, supporting islanders through the cost of living, housing and recruitment and retention and to moving forward into a better future & creating a community where everyone can thrive.

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