Yes, there is poverty here.
After reading John Boothman’s rhetorical column of 24th May, where he relies on character assassination rather than analytical debate, I feel I have to reply using statistics from documents commissioned by, or produced by the States of Jersey.
Jersey has the second highest gross national income (GNI) in the world after Luxemburg, so we can afford the Rolls-Royce services we are promised, that in reality are more akin to Ford Fiesta services. Jersey spends less that half of what Luxemburg spends on social protection.
Jersey is a very expensive place to live, and with the implementation of goods and services tax and zero-ten corporate tax will become even more so. Considering our high GNI we should be able to afford good social protection for those who have not been able to join the gravy train of the finance industry or the heights of 1(1)K status. Jersey only spends 75% of the European average on social security entitlements. As of October this year, Jersey will have a lower basic wage than the United Kingdom (UK). Jersey’s social security benefits are below the internationally recognized benchmarks for assessing relative poverty on individual or household income.
Yes, there is poverty in Jersey. Many social care charities in Jersey are seeing more and more people asking for financial and consumer goods help as the years go by. Last Christmas the Salvation Army saw a 100% increase in families asking for food hampers. This tends to be caused by a large and growing social and economic divide that inherently leads to poverty.
As Jersey has an agricultural industry in terminal decline and a tourism industry that is, only a shadow of its former self our economy has been allowed, by the powers that be, to become dominated by the finance industry. The first UK professor of social policy Richard Titmuss argued that if you let one industry of your economy dominate like we have done in Jersey; it tends to lead to growing income and wealth inequality and growing poverty. These are the reasons, Mr Boothman, I am prepared to stand up for the ordinary people of this Island.
Chris Steel Dip SP&C, Cert SocSci (Open)
Treasurer Attac Jersey.