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Benefits uplift thrown out: “There comes a time when you can’t give everybody everything”

Benefits uplift thrown out: “There comes a time when you can’t give everybody everything”

Thursday 27 April 2023

Benefits uplift thrown out: “There comes a time when you can’t give everybody everything”

Thursday 27 April 2023

A tight decision by the States Assembly has seen a proposal to increase multiple benefits thrown out of the chamber.

The Committee for Employment & Social Security proposed the interim increase because of a period of “exceptionally high inflation”.

The President of ESS said: “This is not in any way shape or form, a real terms increase in either the State's pension or any other benefit - rather, it is a catch up exercise aimed at maintaining their real values at a time [when] cost of living prices [are being] driven by soaring inflation, without which every pensioner, income support recipient, carer and so on, will be poorer throughout this year than they were last year.” 

The proposal would’ve required £3.5million of additional States expenditure, but Deputy Roffey said the States must recognise that additional support is needed for people struggling through a cost-of-living crisis. 


Pictured: The proposed interim rates from ESS. 

Despite a strong push for an interim uplift, the proposal was criticised by several deputies. One issue raised was that an increase in the States pension would benefit people ‘off-island’ and those who are wealthy enough to stomach rising costs. 

Deputy John Dyke said the Assembly needs to keep in mind the island’s current financial situation. 

"We must consider the background of our economic circumstances. Our level of [economic] growth in  in our GDP has been - for about the last 10 years - somewhat lower than our growth in spending, which is an important point that can't go on forever.  

We [could] undermine our economy for everyone. Rich and poor. If we undermine the economy and if we don't balance our greed from spending. At the end of the day, we will have a smaller economy that’ll have less tax to spend on those in need of various benefits.” 

This idea of not giving people what they need now, so we can give them what they need in the future was dismissed by Deputy Steve Falla. 

“We've all sort of felt the effects of rising prices, be that food, fuel bills, or other commodities. Some of us have been able to accommodate those through relatively painless adjustments to our spending and living habits. But for some other Guernsey residents, the pain is really is being felt.” 


Pictured: The President of P&R, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, voted against ESS's proposals: "There comes a time when you need to be balanced." Pic right (President of ESS, Deputy Roffey).

Deputy Peter Ferbrache honed in on where the money for the uplift would come from, arguing that most of the £3.5million required would need to be pulled from the Guernsey Insurance Fund and it isn’t fair to make people pay extra contributions to top up the fund and pay out additional benefits. 

“There comes a time you have to be balanced,” he said. “There comes a time when we can't give everybody everything now; that's not being hard hearted to anybody, it's just being realistic.” 

The proposal saw a split vote of 18 votes to 18, with Deputies Gavin St Pier, Tina Bury and Charles Parkinson absent from the vote and Deputy Marc Leadbeater choosing to abstain. 

Due to the virtue of equality, the proposal lost. 


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