We need to remind those in the States that they are there to serve their constituents, not lord it over them

Government

The way that the states work is no longer fit for purpose, we need greater transparency and a modern way of thinking. Committees should no longer be meeting in private, but be open to public scrutiny. Constantly spending money on specialists and consultants without clear actions and progress is no longer an option that we can afford. The habit of presenting committee reports with little or no time for the islanders being affected is also a demonstration of how little respect the government seems to have for those that elected them. We need to remind those in the states that they are there to serve their constituents, not lord it over them.

Economy

Only by supporting local business will we reduce the unemployment that we’re currently seeing. Small businesses need an incentive to take on more staff and a reduction in the employer insurance contribution would be one means of creating this incentive. Whilst it may be less tax, I believe that the overall benefit of reducing the number of people that are unemployed and therefore, reducing our welfare costs would be invaluable. We also should not underestimate the damaging effects that unemployment has on people’s confidence and welfare, it is a social ill that needs to be addressed as a priority.

Harbour and Airport

Both of these are essential lifelines for the island, without them we would not be able to survive, but we simply aren’t making the best use of these assets. We must move towards commercialisation of both services as soon as possible so that we have both of them generating the wealth for the island that they should. Contracting these services out to companies with well established track record in running such services should be considered as I believe that they, not the government of Guernsey, have the knowledge on how best to capitalise on these services and develop them for our future needs.

Finances

We must learn to live within our means. Whilst the previous states seemed happy to spend on a number of pet projects, the new government will not be in this comfortable position. Guernsey is facing a deficit that needs to be tackled; we need to reduce our costs and this will mean reducing the number of civil servants and the overall costs of running our island. We can’t continue to spend money that we simply don’t have as to increase debt is to saddle the next generation with debt. We must also remember that every penny spent on debt interest is a penny that we no longer have to spend on essential services like health and education.

Education

Recent reports into the poor level of education on the island should worry all of us. If we don’t educate our children properly, the future will be very bleak. A prosperous community is dependent on its members having the appropriate skills and knowledge. Vocational education is poorly appreciated and we frequently push our children into academic studies and ignore the vocational skills that would set them on course to be successful business people; the wealth generators that our economy needs. Academic qualifications are falling behind the UK, which in itself is hardly a glowing example of high standards. We need to reconsider the curriculum that we teach in Guernsey and gear our academic qualifications to be more competitive.

Finance Industry

The largest wealth generator on the island is the finance industry. Whilst I would be one of the first to agree that we need to see a diversification of our economy, we must also take care of our primary agent of growth and employment. We’re no longer in competition with Jersey and the Isle of Man, we’re increasingly finding competition from Hong Kong, Malaysia and other low cost areas. We must learn to adapt the industry and encourage innovative solutions in today’s market if we are to remain a market leader.

Island-wide Voting

We frequently hear the call that we need island-wide voting, but this presents the problem of having the whole island as a constituency, i.e. hustings with 78 candidates. I would propose that we keep 30 deputies that are responsible to their wards as per the current system of voting. Then a further 10 replaced by a modified version of the old Conseillers, with their seats being elected island-wide at alternative years to the deputies. This would reduce the number of sitting members, give islanders an island-wide vote and ensure continuity within the States.

I believe that this would be an effective means of supporting the desire of islanders for Island-wide voting without the headaches that a full States island-wide vote would create.

Social Welfare

We need to reconsider how we think of social welfare. Unemployment benefits should always be viewed as a short term safety net with the intention of encouraging and assisting people back to work. In this regard, the recent Social Security proposals on Supplementary Benefit reform were long overdue, but more research on how they would be funded was needed before being debated in the States. The costings were too vague and options for funding should have been included.

It is time we reconsidered whether universal benefits, such as family allowance, should continue. While they had a valid place in the past, we've now moved to a different time and should bring our welfare system up to date.

All policies that are brought to the states must be properly costed with a solid funding proposal. 

Equality

Currently we have little equality legislation in Guernsey, to the detriment of our standing in the international community. Equalities legislation in other European countries are well progressed, but here we still lack even race and disability discrimination legislation. This has received little or no priority from the previous States.  Putting legislation in place should be viewed, not only as morally necessary, but also as a reflection on how we are perceived as a society.

Legislation such as this should not create any additional bureaucracy on companies, especially the smaller business, but ensure that there is appropriate redress for those experiencing discrimination.

Health

We need a holistic approach to our health problems and there is a lot to be said about the old adage "prevention is better than cure". We are facing an increasing obesity problem but no solid proposals to deal with it.

I would propose that the purchase of a bike be made tax deductible, as it is in the Netherlands, to encourage more people to cycle. The level of tax deductibility should be evaluated against the additional revenue that the profit from our local bike shops would generate. This would also have the additional advantage of reducing some of our traffic problems.

This would only go part of the way to solve the issue, the root of the problem is, as with so many other issues, a lack of education. We need to ensure that all children are taught the importance of good nutrition, the basics of cookery and healthy eating.

Vacant Properties

We currently have a number of vacant dwellings in Guernsey as well as a number of vacant shops in town. In an island that has little housing available and where a vacant shop is an eyesore, this is not an acceptable position.

I would propose that we have a band of TRP for vacant properties that would make it prohibitive to keep a vacant property. This would return dwellings to the market and assist in regulating the price of houses. In the same way, shops would be kept in good standing and owners would be incentivised to accept lower rental, giving our local business the ability to compete on a more level playing field with the online retailers.

Choice

Finally I’d like to emphasise my strong belief in choice. Too frequently, here in Guernsey, are we presented with no choice as there’s only one body, company or person that provides the services that we need. We need to encourage more businesses to fill the gaps of provisions and take less money from people, in the form of tax, so that they can choose where to spend their money and on what provision.