Reducing the Cost of Public Services: Initial survey insights

Thursday, 03 August 2023

Following the excellent response to a public survey, the Reducing the Cost of Public Services Sub-Committee has begun the process of analysing the results.  637 people responded to the survey, over a three-week period.  A sister survey for public sector employees also saw very good engagement with 196 people submitting suggestions for how the cost of public services could be reduced.

Today, the Sub-Committee is publishing some initial insights on the broad themes that are beginning to emerge as its analysis of the suggestions gets under way.  Work on assessing each detailed suggestion will take some time, in order to establish the most likely to be taken forward for recommendation to the States Assembly, and successfully deliver real cost reductions.

The Sub-Committee is working to identify and recommend steps which could deliver recurring cost reductions of at least £10m - £16m per annum, within five years.  The surveys are one part of the Sub-Committee’s broader engagement with stakeholders, and that also includes inviting suggestions from individual Deputies and ongoing discussions with States Committees and these are progressing well.

The work to further reduce costs is also just one piece of a much wider effort, involving a number of workstreams, aimed at ensuring public finances are sustainable for future decades. 

Currently it is forecast that there will be a shortfall in funding public services of around £100m a year by 2040.  The shortfall is driven by changes in the make-up of Guernsey’s population.  More people are living longer, and people are having fewer children, which means demand for services is rapidly rising but the number of people in work - who are currently the main contributors to the funding for public finances – is getting smaller. 

The themes emerging from the survey results show a very broad range for the areas where Islanders believe reductions can be made, and within each theme there is a very diverse mix of detailed suggestions.  The survey also drew in many suggestions that do not relate specifically to reducing costs, but do relate to addressing the forecast shortfall in public finances in other ways, such as tax generating measures.

Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller, member of the Sub-Committee said

“I’d like to once again thank everyone who took part in the survey for their contributions.  The themes that are emerging are interesting, but there’s still a lot of work to do to analyse the many suggestions.  All of the suggestions are being reviewed, not only the ones that came up more frequently.  Ultimately this exercise has been about involving the community to unearth good and effective ways of reducing the cost of public services, which may not necessarily be the most popular.

We are also continuing to actively engage with States Members and Committees, so there is a lot to do.  But ultimately, the Policy & Resources Committee is committed to making recommendations to the States Assembly to deliver these very significant reductions in cost, which is just one part of helping to ensure we make Guernsey’s public finances sustainable again for future generations.”

The initial insights can be viewed here.