Budget 2017 will help us to manage a successful future. Together with the Strategic Plan and Medium Term Financial Plan, it is part of an agreed three year plan that draws on reserves to support the economy in the short term and balance budgets in the medium term.
Looking further ahead, we will need strategic direction and investment over many years to maintain the economic success that funds our public services. So the Council of Ministers is introducing a new approach to long term planning that reflects international advice and well established practice.
Its key elements are to focus on the impact policy changes have on people’s lives, and to see government working together with the private, voluntary and community sectors to tackle the biggest challenges facing our Island.
A wide-ranging survey ran earlier this year. It asked residents how Jersey is doing and where we should aim to be by 2036. It gathered views from more than 4,000 islanders. They said their highest priorities were the environment and low crime. Their concerns are taxes and the cost of living, including housing.
The results paint an encouraging picture of Jersey overall, but respondents were concerned about being able to independently afford a decent standard of living. Community safety, health care, and giving children the best start in life came out high in people’s future aspirations. Protecting the beauty of Jersey’s natural environment, air and water quality scored highly.
We now have a useful insight into people’s ambitions for the future and where they perceive the greatest need for change. We are reflecting on the findings and we will use them to shape a draft vision which will be published in the New Year. This vision will ultimately inform the work of government.
Over the next twenty years our community will face unprecedented opportunities and challenges. Like many other places Jersey is experiencing an ageing population, growing health costs and increasing resource pressures.
A review of our Social Security scheme will look at how it needs to change to continue to support the growing number of pensioners. At the moment the scheme is collecting enough contributions to pay benefits, but contributions will not cover the cost of benefits as our population ages.
We will also need to respond to climate change and embrace the technological innovation that is changing the way we live and work. As technology develops more rapidly than ever before we will fight for a share of the exciting opportunities in digital. As old jobs disappear, new opportunities will open up for digitally trained school leavers.
We begin with many advantages: our business friendly climate, our skilled workforce, and a world-renowned financial services sector that contributes 42% of GVA to Jersey’s economy and employs 13,000 islanders. This sector also feeds into our other important business areas, like tourism, hospitality, construction and retail.
We will promote Jersey’s interests and protect our position as the UK negotiates its exit from the EU. We will encourage inward investment and innovation so we can sustain a healthy job market, low unemployment, high quality public services and an Island with strong public finances that Islanders are proud to call home.
Developing a long term vision will set a clear direction for the future and set the framework for how to get there. It will enable government to sequence policy, investment and funding priorities so that short and medium term plans serve as stepping stones towards the agreed long term outcomes.
This government has assessed Jersey’s position and put in place a medium term financial plan that prioritises investment and future planning, that continues the reforms of the public sector to cater for the changing demographics and puts technology at the heart of reforming a modern public service.
The package of proposals in Budget 2017 is one piece in the jigsaw of long term planning that will help keep Jersey successful into the future.