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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

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

States Assembly approves key Government priorities

22 May 2024

The Chief Minister, Deputy Lyndon Farnham, has thanked the States Assembly for approving the Common Strategic Policy 2024-2026. 

The Chief Minister said: “I am thankful to the Assembly for accepting and endorsing the Common Strategic Policy 2024-2026 and the 13 key priorities. 

“Our priorities reflect the issues that Islanders have identified as most important to them, including addressing the cost of living, housing and health. 

“Alongside the CSP, business as usual activities will continue across the public sector, with focus on the day-to-day work where Islanders expect efficient, cost effective and responsive service; in healthcare, education, infrastructure, disability and inclusion, public safety, and the environment. 

“Underpinning all our work is a steadfast plan to maintain sound public finances and prevent unnecessary expenditure. “This Council of Ministers can now deliver the much-needed progress that Islanders quite rightly demand.” 

Common Strategic Policy 2024 to 2026 

Chief Minister’s opening speech to the Assembly on P.21/2024 – Common Strategic Policy 2024 - 2026 

Sir, this Council of Ministers is committed to delivering sensible, practical solutions during our term of office. 

In presenting this Common Strategic Policy, which I will refer to as the ‘CSP’ for brevity, we are setting out a clear plan for the next two years; one that will prioritise essential Government services and tackle the most immediate challenges facing Jersey. 

In the CSP we have identified thirteen priorities that we believe will deliver meaningful and measurable progress. 

These are not focused on the production of new reports and strategies but on real outcomes that will benefit our community. 

The thirteen priorities are aligned to the long-term vision set out in the Future Jersey report and the ten Island Outcomes arising from it. 

As a Government, we are committed to working towards that Future Jersey vision, which puts an emphasis on environmental, economic, and community wellbeing. 

In developing the CSP we have drawn on a number of important sources, including feedback from the Jersey Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

Our priorities reflect the issues that Islanders have identified as most important to them, including addressing the cost of living, housing and health. 

We understand that the priorities for Islanders have not changed from those facing the previous Government, and I acknowledge the work they began in many areas. We are pleased to continue that work. 

I would also like to acknowledge the input and engagement from Members from Scrutiny that have led to the four amendments that the Council of Ministers were pleased to accept. I believe that they are improving the Plan.

In the area of Community Wellbeing we are looking to address issues impacting Children, Health and Wellbeing, and Safety and Security. 

Benefiting families with young children, we will begin extending nursery and childcare provision, starting with children aged 2 to 3-years-old with additional needs, but with the aim of providing universal coverage to that age group as soon as possible. 

This will require a coordinated approach and close work with the childcare sector. To that end, we have already agreed a rate with providers until the end of the 2027-28 academic year, and initiated a review of Early Years qualifications with Highlands College. 

We will also provide a nutritious school meal for every child in all States primary schools. Hot meal provision is currently available in twelve schools, with Rouge Bouillion and St Saviour’s having started this new service only last week. 

Our priority is to develop and deliver on the plans for all remaining States schools Islandwide. 

We will also increase the provision of lifelong learning and skills development, by promoting apprenticeships, creating a series of targeted skills development schemes, and implementing sustainable Higher Education Student Finance. 

A new skills development scheme is scheduled for launch later this month, following Assembly support for lifelong learning in P.116/2022. And further work is already being progressed following P.12/2024 to improve access to Higher Education. 

In the area of Health, which is foremost in the minds of Islanders, the Council of Ministers are resolute that we will begin construction of the new hospital at Overdale during this term of office, and continue to develop longer-term plans for replacing other outdated healthcare facilities. 

The public consultation on the designs for the Hospital at Overdale is also currently taking place. Our aim, subject to a positive Planning Application this Summer, is for development works to start this Autumn, with construction beginning in 2025 and planned completion by the end of 2028. 

We will be coming to this Assembly to seek funding and financial approval for the full capital amount for Phase one works, including the new Hospital facility. 

We are also committed to keeping GP fees low for all Islanders, who are still being impacted by the high cost-of-living. Subsidised surgery fees for the Health Access Scheme have been reduced to £10 for adult consultations, which covers low-income families and pensioners. 

The cost of GP visits have also been reduced by £10 as from yesterday in a move that we hope will encourage more Islanders to seek early intervention for health issues. 

In ensuring a safer Island, we are also committed to implement the recommendations from the Violence Against Women and Girls Taskforce Report. 

Work on the recommendations requiring changes to our laws has begun, and we anticipate the lodging of all legislation before the end of 2025. 

Planning for internal and independent reviews has also begun, anticipating delivery of a criminal justice system review in 2025 and the review of the family court system in 2026. Turning to the important issue of Economic Wellbeing, and given the continued pressures on Islanders’ pockets, we have prioritised transitioning to a living wage - implementing the Assembly’s decision by the end of this term of office. 

A phased approach will be taken, and more details will be provided in coming weeks and months. And, where it is needed, support will be provided to employers and employees during the transition period. 

We also want to provide more affordable homes for Islanders and more confidence for the rented sector. 

The Minister for Housing has introduced the Rented Dwellings Licensing Scheme on 1 May, and this will be followed soon by a new Residential Tenancy Law that will improve tenancy arrangements for both tenants and landlords. 

We are also committed to keeping Government fees, duties, and charges as low as possible to help Islanders with the cost of living in 2025. 

More detail on each of these proposals will be included in the Government Plan and accompanying budget, which will be lodged later this year. 

With a focus on improving productivity and supporting our local industries, we will reduce red tape, to enhance opportunities for local businesses. 

This has already begun, when in March the Minister for Sustainable Economic Development removed the minimum space standards for visitor accommodation, to help modernise the industry and remove unnecessary barriers. 

In the area of Environmental Wellbeing, I would like to reiterate we are committed to nurturing and improving both the natural and built environment of our Island. 

We will deliver a plan to revitalise Town, which will improve the experience of residents, Islanders and visitors alike. This will include improvements to the public realm to make it easier to walk and cycle in and around town; and a more pleasant place to visit. 

We will improve the town centre and, in particular, ensure that the town markets are maintained and improved. 

And we will make sure that St Helier provides new homes together with the community facilities and infrastructure that town residents need, including access to schools, youth facilities, parks and more open spaces. 

To achieve this priority, we also need to reform the planning service to get Jersey building again. 

Our aim is to reduce waiting times and costs, improve the customer experience, work closer with industry, and enhance the pre-application service. 

Our longer-term ambitions will explore changes to the current planning system, planning law, permitted development rights and the Island Plan review process.

I would like to emphasise that while we have selected two built environmental priorities, this does not mean that we have dismissed our focus on the natural environment. 

As emphasised in the foreword to the CSP, and accepted in the Amendment of Deputy Jeune, we recognise our ongoing need to meet the Island’s commitments to address the climate emergency through the Carbon Neutral Roadmap. And that work will continue. 

Sir, these thirteen priorities are substantial, but they do not represent all that Government will be prioritising over the coming two years. 

Alongside the CSP, business as usual activities will continue across the public sector, with focus on the day-to-day work where Islanders expect efficient, cost effective and responsive service; in healthcare, education, infrastructure, disability and inclusion, public safety, and the environment. 

We won’t create an unnecessary and expensive bureaucracy to publish these as Ministerial Plans, but each Minister will prioritise the business-as-usual activity, including legislative plans which they will discuss with the relevant Scrutiny Panels. 

Underpinning all our work is a steadfast plan to maintain sound public finances and prevent unnecessary expenditure. I have repeatedly made clear that we will reprioritise existing budgets where appropriate to deliver our objectives, ensuring the strong finances that are essential to our international competitiveness and long-term financial security for taxpayers. 

During the remainder of this year, we will fund the CSP within the envelope agreed by the Assembly for the current Government Plan 2024-27. 

This will require us to prioritise spend and improve efficiency across Government. 

We have also acknowledged that the Government has been overcommitting in its attempts to spend capital monies, and that our headcount at the centre has also increased in proportion to the front line. 

We will curb the growth in the public sector and rely less on external consultants, instead developing local talent within the civil service and redirecting monies saved to those areas where it is needed most. 

And we will reduce spending at the centre, particularly within the Cabinet Office. 

Sir, having come to office mid-term, I hope Members will appreciate that this plan is designed to meet the immediate needs of Islanders within a tight timeframe. 

I believe we have developed the Plan based on the best practice of strategic planning, with a focus on delivery, rather than extensive narrative. 

It is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and deliverable within two years.

I would ask Members to give the plan their full endorsement and work collaboratively with Government, as we deliver the much-needed progress that Islanders quite rightly demand. 

Thank you Sir.​​

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