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Crackdown on States overtime, review of PAs and travel expenses and increase in charging hours for parking proposed by ministers

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A CRACKDOWN on public sector overtime, reducing sickness, reviewing the number of government PAs and secretaries and cutting spending on food, taxis and travel are among the ways ministers have proposed saving millions of pounds next year.

John Le Fondré (26130639)

As well as cutting spending to plug a £40m funding gap identified in the proposed Government Plan, ministers are also proposing increasing the costs of some services to Islanders.

Those proposals include extending parking charging times by two hours a day, increasing the fees for courses at Highlands and putting prices up for passports.

A new charge could also be introduced for landing private planes at Jersey Airport.

A total of 21 new jobs are also to be created at the Treasury to provide more resources to recover an extra £7.35m in owed taxes in 2020, rising to £13m by 2023.

The Government Plan, which is due to be debated next month, includes a proposal to cut government spending by £100m between 2020 and 2023, £40m of which would be achieved next year, followed by £20m in each further year.

The first £19.7m of efficiencies were summarised in the plan but it has taken more than three months for the remaining details to be provided. Scrutiny was provided with information regarding a further £13m in September and the final £7.3m was reviewed by the Council of Ministers last week, meaning that a total of £38.2m of efficiencies have now been agreed.

Ministers have asked for further detail on the remaining £1.8m – including the proposals for increasing charges for Highlands courses – before they are confirmed.

And they have agreed that if any of the efficiencies are not approved when the plan is debated by the States, they will seek alternative departmental efficiencies to the same value to replace them or reduce or reprofile spending by the equivalent amount to ensure that income and spending remain balanced.

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Chief Minister John Le Fondré said: ‘Efficiencies are not about short-term cost-cutting and workforce targets, salami-slicing of departmental budgets, or cuts to frontline services. We are conducting a review of activities and costs to ensure that we use taxpayers’ money better, modernise government to deliver services at lower cost, and release funds to reinvest in the priorities that we have proposed in the Government Plan.

‘We must do this, because if we don’t deliver £100 million of efficiencies, we will be wasting £100 million of potential funding for our priorities; money that could have been used to improve life for Islanders. This would mean either abandoning those priorities or seeking extra funding through increases in taxes and charges.

‘Identifying more efficient ways of providing services will help to ensure that we can pay for what we do, without placing undue additional burdens on Islanders.’

Overall, the proposed efficiencies for next year fit into four broad themes: efficient commercial operations (£12.755m), modern and efficient workforce (£10.071m), efficient organisational structures (£1.329m) and departmental efficiencies (£15.861m).

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Ministers say the savings mean better investment in people and better organisation, using modern technology to reduce costs and duplication, smarter commercial practices to get better deals and making sure organisational structures are effectively designed and are value for money.

The money saved will contribute to funding the priorities identified in the Government Plan, which include putting children first, improving wellbeing and mental and physical health, creating a sustainable and vibrant economy and skilled local workforce for the future, reducing income inequality and improving standards of living and protecting the environment.

More specifically, some of the savings include:

  • £10.07m in staffing costs across departments, made possible by managing vacancies, reducing overtime pay, more effective management of sickness, voluntary redundancy and early retirement and reducing reliance on fixed-term contracts and agency staff.
  • £4.86m by requiring departments to manage inflation on costs of goods and services from within their budgets rather than replying on annual increases from central reserves, as had been government policy.
  • £2.08m in contract efficiencies.
  • £1.77m Health savings on procured purchases and consumables, including medicines and redesigning the pharmacy operating model.
  • £1.29m savings on business support spending, including a review of use of executive support roles such as PAs and secretaries.
  • £940,000 estimated reduction in benefits needed next year because fewer people are claiming income support.
  • £700,000 extra income from extending parking charging hours from 8am until 5pm to 7am until 6pm Monday to Saturday.
  • £610,000 extra income generated by a new charge on private planes landing at the Airport.
  • £340,000 saving across departments on day-to-day expenditure, including refreshments for meetings and events, subscriptions, staff business class travel and travel to UK and EU, furniture policy, personal use on government-provided mobiles, taxi policy, stationery, external meeting room hire and subsistence allowance.
Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
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