Government Work Plan: ‘Mid-term Reset’ Green Paper
Tuesday, 13 June 2023
The latest Government Work Plan (GWP) is published today and comes at a time of major challenges for the Island. Guernsey has felt the impacts of major global events this term – recovering from the COVID pandemic, moving into the post-Brexit period and the on-going war in Ukraine. These challenges combined have led to high inflation rates which have had a material impact on the affordability of basic goods for islanders and for the States.
Alongside these challenges is the rapidly growing demand for services, particularly in areas such as health and care. This is driven by demographic changes with more people living longer and fewer working compounded by a reducing birth rate. As things are, public sector resources will continue to be severely overstretched with the deficit in public finances forecast to grow to £100m per year, every year, in real terms, by 2040.
The GWP proposes delivery requirements for the remainder of this political term and forecasts the resource and funding requirements. It addresses both the obligatory work of an independent jurisdiction necessary to meet international trade and compliance regulations and the work to grow a competitive economy by tackling supply and affordability of housing and re-skilling the workforce. In addition, the work considered essential by States Committees to address current and emerging issues has been prioritised.
While in some areas this has meant an anticipated reduction in costs, overall the workstreams require an additional £4m above what has been allowed for in States’ funding plans. This is not currently affordable, even considering expected cost reductions and additional revenues from the cost-cutting review of day-to-day public services, the review of corporate and other taxes and a planned Budget freeze for next year.
The Committee is also concerned that this reset has highlighted that to continue to meet the community’s expectation of its public services, there remains a sustained funding demand without a viable and robust funding plan.
In the July debate on the GWP, the States Assembly must effectively decide if it genuinely believes the GWP reflects only the most critical priorities for Guernsey. In September, the Policy & Resources Committee will present plans to deliver the workstreams and funding options for how to pay for them.
Deputy Bob Murray, the Policy & Resources lead for the Government Work Plan said:
“I’d like to thank Committees for their efforts in re-setting the Government Work Plan and focusing more than ever on only the most critical projects. But the cost shows that there is a lot we must do if we are to successfully manage the host of international pressures we face, meet the needs of our changing demographic, and grow our economy.
The role of Policy & Resources is to coordinate the policy and strategy work of Committees through this Plan, but it is the States Assembly that must decide if and how it funds this plan or accept that some of our established workstreams cannot be progressed because we have some very pressing needs which must continue not least of which is housing supply and affordability. If necessary, Policy & Resources will recommend in September the suspension of some work to progress what it considers essential for the longer-term sustainability of the community.”