Jersey's government slammed for spending on award ceremonies for civil servants

  • A freedom of information request submitted by ITV News has revealed the cost of the Government of Jersey's awards nights to thank the stars of the civil service

A charity has said Jersey's government is "operating in a parallel universe" after ITV News revealed it spent nearly £130,000 on employee award ceremonies over the last four years. 

In 2023 alone, it spent more than £66,000 of public money on the 'Our Stars' awards, which the government says recognises the achievements of "dedicated public servants". 

ITV News understands the bulk of the funds went to pay for a ceremony at the Royal Jersey Showground in September, attended by 400 employees.

Attendees were given free food and a drink on arrival, but an open bar was not part of the celebrations. 

Age Concern Jersey Chairmen Ben Shenton said the charity recently asked the Government for a donation towards a new minibus to help transport those using their services but received nothing. 

He told ITV News it was a "waste" to spend so much on the awards, adding the government "don't realise what the real Jersey people need and how they should spend our taxes."

  • Ben Shenton says it's "disgusting" to spend so much money on a ceremony while islanders are struggling

The money for the ceremonies comes from the People and Corporate Services Department's budget. 

Previous freedom of information requests for the 2022 awards, described by the government as a "plush" night, show that £1,371 went towards purchasing 4,500 gold envelopes and that £2,706 had been spent on pin badges for the event. 

Over the years, UK councils have spent large amounts on such events but a survey by the campaign group The Taxpayers' Alliance, found in 2019 that the average cost of such events was around £18,000.

In comparison, Jersey's government spent more than three times that amount on this year's events alone.

From 2020 to 2022, the awards were funded by a mix of corporate sponsorship and government funds, but the 2023 awards had no private investment - a move made, ITV News understands, because of concerns about private sponsorship of a government event.

  • Constable Andy Jehan said it's important the government celebrates staff achievements, as any other employer does

Constable Andy Jehan, the vice-chair of the States Employment Board, defended the spending.

He said: "We see people going the extra mile in a whole range of areas and I think it's vital, just as any other employer does, that you recognise your workforce and particularly those who have made an extra effort."

Last year, the government spent more than £4,000 on gold envelopes, pin badges and other aspects of the 2022 awards.

Constable Jehan told ITV News things have been done differently this year: "I think you'll find this year that we actually reined back on the expenses and so it wasn't as plush a night as the year before."

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