Jersey government rules out temporary measures to ease cost of living crisis

PA IMAGES - Phone with energy bill on it and some change at the side, fuel pump and man in supermarket
There are fears for the most vulnerable families as the cost of living crisis deepens. Credit: PA Images

Jersey's Chief Minister has rejected calls from the island's consumer council to bring in temporary measures to help those struggling with the rising cost of living.

The organisation took the unusual step of writing to Senator John Le Fondré on 18 March to ask him to consider a range of measures, which would have have helped ease the financial burden families.

Among the issues driving up prices are Brexit, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the economic recovery from Covid-19.

What Jersey Consumer Council wanted:

  • A reduction in fuel duty by 9p a litre

  • A £100 credit made available to each household to put towards their winter energy bill

  • Free bus journeys and free town parking on Saturdays

  • A commitment to not introducing a reduction in the online shopping threshold before 2023

  • The establishment of a panel of islanders and business leaders who could suggest further measures

Senator John Le Fondré said in response: "The Government of Jersey is fully aware of the inflationary pressures facing all islanders and has implemented support measures which were announced at the last States sitting by the Social Security Minister.

Senator John Le Fondré has ruled out suggestions put forward by the Jersey Consumer Council. Credit: ITV Channel TV

"Any measures adopted by the Government need to be targeted to achieve the maximum assistance to those most vulnerable to the effects of inflation. The current inflationary pressure has largely arisen as a result of global factors that are beyond Jersey's control.

"However, in addition to the measures already taken, Ministers continue to consider further practical initiatives that can be taken where appropriate in the short and medium term to alleviate the impact of inflationary pressures will have on islanders.

"These will be ready for presentation to the next Council of Ministers following the elections in June."

What the Chief Minister said about reducing fuel duty:

"Reducing fuel duty is not an effective means of delivering help to islanders. It does not benefit all households equally. Average mileage and fuel consumption in Jersey is significantly lower than in the UK. In addition, households on lower incomes - who have lower rates of car ownership - make up only a small percentage of motor fuel spending. "The Jersey Consumer Council's website on 21 March showed the cheapest litre of unleaded petrol in Jersey was 149.9p (in St Saviour) while the most expensive was 167.9p (in St Helier) - a difference of 18 pence.

"For diesel, the cheapest litre is to be had in St Helier at 153.0p in St Helier and the most expensive litre can also be had in St Helier for 173.9p - a difference of 20.9 pence, which is far greater than the reduction of 9p per litre which is proposed by the JCC.

"Islanders therefore already have the ability to achieve far greater savings than a reduction of 9p would achieve by being selective in where they purchase their motor fuel. "

Fuel prices have risen across the Channel Islands, with taxi drivers in Guernsey forced to increase fares for the second time this year. Credit: ITV Channel TV

What he said about making £100 credit available for every household to spend on their chosen energy bill:

"A £100 credit to all households is not being actively considered. However Ministers have agreed a temporary scheme to support those most vulnerable.

"The Minister for Social Security has announced plans for monthly payments to support those most vulnerable in our community.

"This will take the form of a direct monthly payment of £20 to every adult or child in a household claiming Income Support and every pensioner claiming a means tested benefit."

What Senator John Le Fondré said about allowing free bus journeys to St Helier and/or free parking on Saturdays:

"Whilst theoretically attractive, experience and evidence does suggest that these proposals can result in unintended consequences which would not achieve the desired outcome.

"Previous surveys indicate that Jersey consumers value the convenience of a location above the price of parking when choosing where to shop.

"Indeed, the percentage of respondents who considered the price of parking to be a factor was less than 10%."

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