As we reach the end of a busy year it’s the time to take stock. We have seen some eye catching headlines and a lot has been said about our strategic priorities and financial plan. But government has been getting on with things.
You can now pay your social security contributions online, police officers are moving to mobile working and registering a birth or death is one of the first ‘Tell us once’ projects to come to fruition.
Anti-discrimination legislation has come into force; freedom of Information is firmly established and a family support task force has launched our 1001 Days agenda to ensure every child reaches his or her potential.
We have transformed social housing by establishing Andium Homes, which is refurbishing and investing in more homes for people who need them. The incorporation of our ports has removed £300 million of capital funding pressures from the States over the next 25 years.
Transforming health and social care
We have started a transformation of health and social care that will provide more services in the community. We have launched ‘out-of-hospital’ services to avoid unnecessary admissions and enable faster patient discharge. We have a new antenatal clinic and refurbished operating theatres.
A third intake of local Nursing Degree students has started training – to help fill staff vacancies with qualified ‘home-grown’ nurses. We have reduced waiting times at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service by 60 days and there has been a 50% drop in ‘no-shows’ at the physiotherapy department.
We have improved public health through the Eat Safe food grading, and by prohibiting smoking in vehicles carrying under 18s. And in the past year we have been developing a new Mental Health Law, a Capacity and Self-Determination Law, and a new Mental Health Strategy for Jersey.
We have started work on raising educational standards, establishing a new curriculum, liaising more closely with families and providing more autonomy for schools
We have opened an impressive new primary school in St Martin, an example of a student-focussed learning environment, and, following the recent public consultation, a new Les Quennevais secondary school is finally in sight.
The digital strategy is starting to bear fruit, with our students spearheading initiatives in digital learning both inside and outside the classroom; and links with China are blossoming, opening up international opportunities for our teachers and young people.
We have made progress on the new sewage treatment plant; the last of the fly ash from La Collette has been removed and a surface water drainage system is being laid at Ann Court.
The refurbished St James’ church was opened by the Princess Royal this year, highlighting how government can breathe life into old buildings, provide high quality facilities and regenerate an area. And the new police station is progressing on time and on budget, providing a much needed facility and releasing land at Summerland for affordable housing.
As the world around us changes at an ever faster pace, as global trends increase competition for the investment, business and talent that every jurisdiction needs to remain successful, we are working to keep Jersey a great place to live, work and raise a family.
That’s why our financial plan supports investment in health, education and infrastructure – an extra £96 million for health and social services over the next 4 years, an extra £27million for education and £168 million more for capital projects.
That’s why we are reorganising departments to cut costs and increase efficiency; saving in some areas to invest in others and maintaining the services islanders need while balancing our books by 2019.
Recent statistics show our policies are working. Financial services profit went up by 25% from 2013 to 2014 and we saw 5% economic growth in 2014. Staying visitors are up, retail sales are up, earnings have grown, employment is at an all-time high and unemployment is down. Jersey has one of the lowest ILO unemployment rates in the world.
Ministers want Jersey to be an attractive place to do business while managing our resources responsibly and supporting the vulnerable. That remains our challenge for this term of office and beyond.