Jersey government defends living wage U-turn

  • Deputy Malcolm Ferey tells Fred Dimbleby that "the government is committed" to introducing a living wage in the future.

Ministers in Jersey are being criticised for not meeting a commitment to bring in a statutory living wage, despite previously pledging to do so.

In a report published by the Social Security Minister, the government said introducing the living wage was not "feasible or desirable".

It comes days after the charity Caritas recommended the living wage in Jersey should become £13.41 per hour to reflect the current rate of inflation of 10.1%.

Despite the government's commitment in 2021 and 2022 to raise the minimum wage it has now said this is "unlikely." The living wage rate would have been two-thirds of the median wage across the island by the end of 2024.

The current median wage is £800 per week in Jersey and the government's 2021 target would have given a minimum wage rate of £13.33 per hour.

During her 2022 general election campaign, Chief Minister, Deputy Kristina Moore said she was "absolutely committed to the living wage".

She added: "It was a concern at the last election and is an even bigger concern with rising inflation now".

Treasury Minister Ian Gorst also said during his campaign: "I think there is an opportunity in the next four years, to move to the living wage.

"The minimum wage will become about the same level as the living wage, we will need to work with farming in particular."

Assistant Chief Minister Lucy Stephenson further agreed and said: "It is now time for the government to step up".

Reform Jersey has expressed "its extreme disappointment" that the living wage will not happen as planned and has vowed to take action to reverse the government's decision.

Party Leader, Deputy Sam Mézec, said: “The report published by the government this week is a shameful disregard of States Assembly decisions that have previously been made to adopt the Living Wage in Jersey.”

He added: "The report offers no economic assessment justifying their abandonment of this target, nor does it refer at all to the plight of the lowest paid workers in Jersey who are suffering from the cost-of-living crisis

"We will be discussing options to bring forward counter-proposals in the new year to get the journey towards the Living Wage back on track."

In response, Assitant Social Security Minster, Deputy Malcolm Ferey, told ITV News: "We are committed to bringing low-paid workers wages up as far as we possibly can."

In response to whether the living wage will be introduced, he said: "I personally am committed to that, this government is committed to that but it has to be at the right time."

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