From Ed Le Quesne.
IN September, the States will be debating a business plan with real choices to be made about budget priorities. Early ideas seem to lack a moral framework.
A priority should be to maintain and even extend services to vulnerable groups. It is not the time to cut back on building up proper services for vulnerable children and families, as outlined by the Williamson report.
It is not the time to cut back on the Alcohol and Drugs Service, or other health promotion initiatives, or the valuable work of the Bridge. Jersey has one of the highest proportion of working women and they and their families need support.
We should ensure a living wage for the lowest paid by steady rises in the minimum wage, and the States pension should continue to be raised, as it is the main income for many elderly people.
The pay freeze should not extend to everyone, but only kick in above a threshold level where people have enough money for discretionary spending. Perhaps the additional work related pensions paid to retired civil servants, teachers like me, should not have a rise for a while.
The waiting lists at housing trusts show there is still a need for more social housing. Young people around the income support threshold find extra work means an almost equal loss in benefit, and they really struggle with rent levels in the private sector.
Education for work-related skills and at university is still important.
We are a relatively low-tax economy and some of the ideas considered at the time GST was introduced should be looked at again to raise more income from the relatively prosperous. Charges for those able to pay should be introduced more widely in the health service to maintain important services for the vulnerable.
Investment in energy efficiency and sustainability is urgently needed and should not be an easy target for unwise cuts.