JERSEY: Chief Minister grilled on tax status.

As published on jerseyeveningpost.com, Friday 15 July, 2022.

The new Chief Minister was yesterday grilled on zero-hour contracts, the living wage and Jersey’s tax arrangements when she appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

During a ten-minute interview, Deputy Kristina Moore was taken to task by host Emma Barnett over the belief held by some that the Island is a tax haven where there is a clear divide between the super-wealthy and the poor.

In response, Deputy Moore said: ‘Jersey is a financial centre. It’s an international financial centre. It’s a place that sees great distribution of wealth to other nations.’

Ms Barnett replied: ‘It doesn’t seem that it’s a great distribution of wealth to its people though. What percentage of your population is on zero-hours contracts at the moment?’

Deputy Moore replied: ‘Well, that’s a good question and I don’t have the exact figure to hand at the moment.’

The Chief Minister added that the new government had been ‘encouraging’ a move away from zero-hour contracts and was committed to a living wage.

She added an increasing number of employers were becoming accredited under a living wage scheme managed by Caritas Jersey, although she admitted this was a ‘small group’. The living wage is currently set at £11.27 per hour.

‘We are about to debate an increase in the minimum wage,’ she said, with the rate possibly increasing from £9.22 to £10 per hour by the autumn and eventually being brought into line with the living wage, if a proposition from Deputy Sam Mézec is approved.

Ms Barnett also questioned whether there was a ‘chasm’ between the perception of Jersey as a finance centre and the realities of people’s lives amid the cost-of-living crisis.

She also highlighted that the jurisdiction was ranked eighth on Tax Justice Network’s corporate tax-haven index. Deputy Moore responded that they were a campaign group with a ‘specific agenda’.

Deputy Moore said Jersey had a ‘very good track record’, and a ‘highly, regulated, very professional financial services industry’, when Ms Barnett highlighted that some EU MEPs had called for the Island to be blacklisted last year due to its tax arrangements.

Housing and the cost of living were key priorities for her government, according to Deputy Moore, who said she was committed to improving Jersey’s below-average OECD ranking, with its most-recent Better Life Index ranking Jersey 24th of 42 nations, a fall of five places compared to 2019.

And when Ms Barnett claimed that Jersey politics had been ‘rather white, male and middle class up until now’, Deputy Moore pointed out that there were now more female Deputies than male in the new States Assembly.

The Chief Minister said: ‘I think politics is not often the first thing that women think of doing, is it? There are of course many women who do participate in local politics in various places, but there are very few nations where there is a very high level of participation.

‘It’s not seen as something that is easy for women to do, perhaps. We are sometimes not keen to face what is perceived to be an area where there is often conflict and difficult discussion.

‘But I think women participating in that is a really positive thing, and we need more women to take on these roles.’