Reform Jersey pledges to declare housing crisis

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COMMITMENTS to remove GST from food by 2023, raise the minimum wage and formally declare a housing crisis have been included within Reform Jersey’s manifesto ahead of the June election.

The political party today unveiled the 26-page document, which states that if its Members are elected it will form a strategic policy based on three priorities – creating a ‘more equal society’, preparing Jersey for the ‘challenges of the future’, and ‘restoring government accountability and democracy’.

It contains nine key pledges, including plans to officially declare a housing crisis within the first week of office and raise the minimum wage – currently £9.22 per hour – to whatever the ‘living wage’ is at the time, by initially changing it to £10 per hour from 1 October 2022.

It also outlines proposals to remove GST from food and essential items by 2023 and ensure all States primary schools provide their students with ‘a hot and nutritious meal’ every day, among other things.

Reform Jersey is one of four political parties contesting the 2022 election with the Jersey Alliance due to unveil its manifesto today and the coalition between the Jersey Liberal Conservatives and the Progress Party also releasing its election pledges this week.

Reform Jersey party leader Senator Sam Mézec said: ‘The next government will have many challenges to overcome. The gap between the rich and poor has grown whilst poverty continues to rise, and wages have stagnated for a decade. Jersey faces a crippling housing crisis which is depriving many of hope of a decent life here. There is also so much more which needs to be done to truly “put children first”, respond to the climate crisis and fix our healthcare system.

‘Unlike other candidates and parties, Reform Jersey recognises that we will not resolve these issues with platitudes. We need a clear programme for change.’

He explained that the party had sought to produce pledges its members believed the public would want to engage with.

‘We have also consulted with various groups and government officials to make sure these are pledges that can actually be delivered,’ he added.

In December, Reform Jersey revealed its Housing Action Plan consisting of several measures intended at resolve the Island’s housing crisis, such as changing planning rules so that 100% of homes built on publicly owned land are for affordable housing – instead of being sold to investors.

The party has updated the document to include a ‘right of first refusal’ policy for private tenants, which would give them the first offer to buy their home should their landlord decide to sell it – and set up a fund to support them to purchase their homes through shared equity.

‘With this manifesto, we are being clear with the public of Jersey on where we stand and what our members will seek to do if elected. This is our contract with the public. A better Jersey is possible. We must not squander this opportunity to bring about a future for our Island which we can have confidence will deliver us all better lives. We need a “New Deal” for Jersey. Together we can achieve this,’ said Senator Mézec.

Reform Jersey has pledged to:

Raise the minimum wage to the ‘living wage’, starting by raising it to £10 per hour from 1 October 2022.

Declare a housing crisis in the first week of office and require officers to implement its Housing Crisis Action Plan as a matter of urgency.

Expand the Health Access Scheme so Islanders with long-term illnesses can access cheaper GP appointments, and work towards abolishing the fee entirely for all Islanders.

Remove GST from food and essential items by 2023, to be done on the same basis as the VAT exemptions in the UK.

Ensure that all States primary schools provide a hot and nutritious meal daily for all their pupils by September 2023.

Reform the tax system to ensure taxes are progressive and fair, including raising the top rate for the highest earners, reducing it for middle earners, and protecting the lowest earners.

Renegotiate the contract for Jersey’s bus service to provide more accessible, affordable and environmentally friendly public transport, alongside active travel options.

Establish a programme to support households to transition to low-carbon heating systems.

Establish a Public Services Ombudsman to enable Islanders to seek redress when failed by a government service.

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