Plans to give every man, woman and child £100 each to spend in Jersey's shops to boost the economy have been branded "reckless" by a senior politician. Senator Kristina Moore is considering forcing a States Assembly debate to call for the government to rethink its plans to spend £11 million on the project.
The money is due to be issued in the form of gift cards or vouchers in September, and must be spent on-island within two months of receipt. Senator Moore, who chairs the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, says it should instead be spent on measures to help the jobless back to work.
Measures taken at this point ought to be targeted, timely and temporary. This isn't really timely because it's not happening til September and it's certainly not targeted. To be quite honest it's simply reckless because everybody knows there's no such thing as a free lunch. This will have to be paid for at some point
But retailers have welcomed the news, as an effort to encourage reluctant shoppers back to the high street.
We're trading below last year but certainly better than when we first opened but it's tough and one of the things that we see is that people coming into the store are still nervous. We're still seeing people who have come to town for the first time since March, and again this £100 to come out and spend is a catalyst for getting people out there.
Jersey Business, which has worked with the government and businesses to help them recover from the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic, supports the planned cash injection, as part of a wider package of measures which includes a new £50 million Fiscal Stimulus Fund, and deferrals of Social Security and GST payments by businesses, and a temporary reduction in employee Social Security contributions.
I think we're in a stage now where we need to build confidence and that's what we see this being about. We all need to learn to live with Covid, so getting people out, getting them feeling confident about going back to work, going to visit their favourite shops, restaurants, going to the gym, visiting sites around Jersey, that's what we really need to do next, building that confidence.
If Senator Moore is successful in gathering support for her proposed proposition, it could be debated at an extra sitting of the States Assembly in August.