Wednesday 15 February 2023
Thank you Sir,
I am delighted to return to the Assembly as an Alderney representative and to have this opportunity, on behalf of the States of Alderney, to share our work over 2022 and our plans and expectations for 2023.
It has been a busy year for our island, and we are grateful for the continued commitment of our Civil Service, Harbour, States Works, Waterboard and Emergency Services teams. We have faced some significant challenges and are grateful for the continued support of Guernsey States' Members and the Civil Service. It is an exciting time as we work together across the islands to explore how we might enhance our working relationships further to improve our collective effectiveness, efficiency and resilience and we look forward to seeing this work mature further over the coming months.
Healthcare dominated much of 2022 as we responded to operational challenges within both Primary Care and the Ambulance Service. Working closely with Guernsey and the providers, we were able to take decisive action to stabilise the position, securing continued healthcare for the Alderney population while laying the groundwork for the healthcare's system future evolution.
Arrangements have been made to commission a safe and robust ambulance service from St John Ambulance and Rescue Service Guernsey with a transitional period currently underway. Working with a Guernsey provider brings with it numerous opportunities in respect of training, resilience and professional expertise and we'll be working closely with St John to ensure value for money.
As members are aware, the Primary Care Practice, Island Medical Centre, was acquired by government in autumn 2022 after considerable discussion with the Policy & Resources Committee. The transfer of this essential community service was necessary to maintain service levels and is an important enabler in our longer-term aspirations for healthcare. It is however seen as a short to medium term option, and our efforts remain focused on evolving the model of care and operation of the Practice such that it can successfully transfer out of government ownership at the appropriate juncture.
The steps to stabilise health and care provision has come at a considerable cost creating a significant- and unforeseen - financial pressure on government resulting in a deficit of several hundred thousand pounds in the 2023 budget. As a one-off, this can be met through the States of Alderney's limited reserves which have resulted from the surge in recent years in property sales leading to an increase in property transfer duties.
This isn't sustainable for either Alderney and Guernsey beyond this year and through the Alderney Care Board - a joint political forum between the two islands - there is a plan of work to accelerate a more effective delivery and funding model in order to place the health and care system on a more sustainable footing.
While providing health and care to 2,000 people is challenging, the scale also provides real opportunity to successfully bring separate providers together and reassess how and where care is delivered. This can improve experiences for islanders and ultimately make the whole system more sustainable and more resilient. There will be difficult decisions as we determine what level of care is proportionate to Alderney and how this should be funded, and we're grateful for the continued partnership working with the Policy & Resources Committee and the Committee forHealth & Social Care.
Moving away from healthcare, in my last statement, I advised that Alderney had established a Housing Task Group to work with the civil service, the Alderney Housing Association and local businesses to draw up a new policy to address the many pressures on Alderney's housing supply. These issues are far from unique to Alderney as both islands seek to respond to the needs of different sectors of the community. In an Alderney context, our natural focus has been identifying the housing needs of the Island and we have agreed to work collaboratively with the associated organisations in Alderney, together with representatives from the transferred services, to address these shortfalls. One of the main areas identified is the lack of suitable accommodation for key workers which I know is an issue across the Bailiwick. Together we need to address this as if we are unable to attract essential staff to the Island, our communities will not be able to thrive.
As recognised in the Island Plan, a key priority for Alderney has to be supporting our economic development, taking steps to attract new business to the island and encouraging inward investment. To support this, just this month the States of Alderney has agreed to establish a new States' Committee, the Economic Development Committee, with its own mandate, under the chairmanship of my fellow Alderney Representative, Mr Snowdon. This Committee will work closely with Guernsey's Committee forEconomic Development and already has plans to commit resource to a number of key areas. These include the retention of individuals within the islands, transport resilience, encouraging promotion of the Bailiwick tourism product, accommodation policies, and most importantly, a consistent Bailiwick approach to the economy at such a pivotal time post pandemic.
In working to make and promote Alderney as an attractive place to live and work, we need to make sure that our legislation is in line with other forward-looking jurisdictions. Our first priority is the introduction of a statutory minimum wage, which has States support, bringing Alderney in line with Guernsey. Investigation of the requirements to implement such legislation is ongoing however, we anticipate the Committee being asked to approve proposals by the end of the year, with a view to implementation in 2024.
I have to finish on reflecting on this Assembly's decision late last year to approve option C+, that is an extended runway and improved infrastructure, at Alderney airport. We were delighted by the decision made and the confidence shown by Guernsey in Alderney. As set out at the time, we truly believe that it will save money in the long run and serve an economic enabler for the Bailiwick as a whole. However, despite the significant milestone of the decision, we recognise that the hard work is only just beginning and we look forward to working with Guernsey colleagues as the work proceeds.
Sir, I am grateful for the opportunity to provide this update to the Assembly and welcome any questions.