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  1. Final budget item approved

    The item was deferred earlier to allow an ordinance to be redrafted.

    The Taxation of Real Property Ordinance was approved

    Thus ends one of the longest States debates in at least 20 years.

  2. Benefit rates for 2020 agreed

    The various non-contributory benefit rates for 2020 have been approved by the States.

    These include the income support requirement, benefit limitation, rent allowances, fuel allowances, carer's allowance.

    The Committee for Employment and Social Security was also instructed to commission an independent analysis of the baskets of goods - a fixed set of stable food products - so to update the minimum income standard for Guernsey.

  3. Mesothelioma compensation scheme approved for 2021

    States members have voted in favour of introducing a mesothelioma compensation scheme from 2021.

    The rare form of lung cancer is brought on by exposure to asbestos, where tiny particles are inhaled and damage the victim's lungs.

    A move to introduce the scheme next year failed, mostly over concerns over a lack of details in the proposals.

    This motion saw a proxy vote used for the first time.

    The Committee for Employment and Social Security has been charged to develop any legislation and policies necessary to establish the scheme and funding to be put aside for it to start from 1 January 2021.

  4. Mesothelioma scheme proposal lacking detail - St Pier

    President of Policy and Resources Gavin St Pier has opposed introducing the mesothelioma compensation scheme in 2020, as only the "scantiest detail' has been provided to the States .

    Deputy St Pier described Deputy Matt Fallaize's proposal as "making policy on the hoof".

    He said questions remained over several outstanding issues, including how many people would be eligible, if they had to contract it while on the island to qualify and whether their dependents would receive the money if they have already died.

    Mr St Pier said the details should be contained within a policy letter that the Committee for Employment and Social Security would submit to the states in early 2020, so further decisions about the scheme should wait until then.

    "The £100,000 is covered off in one line in the uprating report, it feels like a finger in the air."

    He lamented that it felt "churlish" to oppose the amendment over a relatively small amount of money and he was "sorry to have to do it".

    "But I'm afraid to say this is really poor policy making and has to be opposed on that ground."

  5. Mesothelioma compensation scheme proposed

    The States is debating introducing a compensation scheme for mesothelioma suffers.

    Mesothelioma is a rare form of lung cancer brought on by exposure to asbestos, where tiny particles are inhaled and damage the victim's lungs.

    Following diagnosis life expectancy is just one to two years.

    A similar compensation scheme was opened in Jersey in September.

    Deputy Matt Fallaize, who has proposed introducing the scheme said Guernsey should have established a scheme "years ago".

    "It is unimaginable that the States should want to delay any longer, when the case for a scheme is clear," he argued.

    Mr Fallaize said the cost of the scheme would be about £100,000 a year based on similar schemes worldwide.

    The scheme would be set to start in 2020 or 2021, depending on States approval, and would initially be paid for with an allocation from the capital reserve fund.

  6. Revenue expenditure limit confirmed as £433m

    The overall cash limits for revenue expenditure by the States has been confirmed at just under for £433m for 2020.

    This had to be submitted as a technical amendment after two propositions about changes to the tax on real property rates (TRP) were voted down.

    The full draft amendment to the TRP remains deferred while it is being finalised following the changes to the original proposals.

  7. Most of budget passed with two propositions removed

    The majority of the 2020 Budget has been approved, with two propositions removed:

    • A proposal to raise domestic tax on real property (TRP) rates by 8.8% annually from 2021-2025
    • To remove the "outbuildings" classification from TRP and replace it with a new "property for other use" category for buildings separate from normal household use

    Two other propositions were deferred as a result of the removal of the above propositions.

    Both the approval of the draft amendment to the TRP Ordinance and the overall cash limits for revenue expenditure for 2020 will have to be amended and resubmitted for consideration later in the meeting.

  8. 'Extraordinarily long' budget debate draws to close

    Summing up general debate on the 2020 budget, President of Policy and Resources Gavin St Pier said the budget debate had been "extraordinarily long", with 20 amendments discussed over four days.

    Deputy St Pier said: "Even I in my wildest nightmares didn't anticipate that with half the number of amendments as last year we would manage to still be speaking at this point."

    He added that the Medium Term Financial plan had "anchored some of the thinking" around the budget, but that they had been forced to respond to changes in circumstances since it was drawn up in 2016.

    "In particular for 2020, the additional spending requests of £27.9m could not have been anticipated, they have not anticipated by anyone in this assembly."

  9. Failure of green levy amendment 'frustrates' DPA

    The Development and Planning Authority (DPA) has expressed its frustration at the failure of the States to approve a review into introducing a levy charge to develop greenfield sites.

    The budget amendment was submitted by Deputy John Gollop and was narrowly defeated 19-16 on Thursday.

    President of the authority Dawn Tindall said the decision was "at odds" with indications made by deputies about their approval of the measure.

    She said without a fiscal measure being implemented by the States it was extremely unlikely that the DPA would be able to come up with a planning mechanism to prioritise brownfield land over green.

    Mrs Tindall added the failure of the amendment meant the issue will not come back before the States until after the five-year plan review in 2021.

    Quote Message: The Development and Planning Authority will continue to look into a planning mechanism, but there will also be an underlying need to continue to balance three elements: the economic, environmental, and social interests as the Island Development Plan does now. from Dawn Tindall Development and Planning Authority President
    Dawn TindallDevelopment and Planning Authority President
  10. Prison and fire services to be inspected in next two years

    Guernsey's Prison and Probation Service will be independently inspected in 2020 and the Fire and Rescue Service in 2021, says the President of the Home Affairs Committee Mary Lowe.

    The last time the fire services were inspected was 2008.

    Part of the prison inspection will be an examination of the service's handling of offender management.

    Deputy Lowe said the upcoming inspections, following the audit of Guernsey Police in 2018, are part of a rolling program of inspections for vital public services under the jurisdiction of Home Affairs.

    She added: "A regular program will assist our staff and provide transparent and independent assurances about the services we give our community."

    "It's a win-win all round."

  11. States breaks for lunch

    Members will take a shorter lunch break of an hour and return with general debate on the budget at 14:00.

  12. Lack of funding for poorest families disappointing - Le Clerc

    Deputy Michelle Le Clerc said she was "disappointing" that what the Employment and Social Security Committee (ESS) regarded as "essential funding" for the poorest families on Guernsey was not prioritised in the budget.

    ESS had originally wanted to raise the weekly benefit cap for families to £850, but withdrew the amendment they had submitted.

    Mrs Le Clerc said this funding was not ranked highly because a sufficient number of people would not benefit, despite the fact that it would have a significant impact on those it was intended to help.

    She said: "It may only affect 130 families, it may only be 430 children, but they are the poorest and most vulnerable in Guernsey.

    "The families affected by the benefit limit are working families."

  13. Tax burden "substantially lower" than Jersey

    Speaking about the prospect of reforming the tax system, Deputy Matt Faillaize pointed to the fact that Guernsey's tax burden is significantly less than in comparable jurisdictions.

    He said: "Tax receipts as a percentage of the size of our economy are substantially lower than it is in Jersey."

    Currently the 2020 budget lays out a 5% rise of commercial tax on real property (TRP) and an 10.2% rise of domestic, the island's system of property tax based on total size.

    The States is set to conduct a review in 2020 of options to change the nature of the island's tax base.

    Whilst Mr Faillaize praised the Policy and Resources Committee for coming up with the "best possible" budget in the circumstances, he criticised them for the way they control access to money.

    He described the processes for accessing committee funding as "absurd".

    "We have reached a point where principle committees find it hard to access funds in order to deliver established government policy," Mr Fallaize added.

  14. Effort to reprioritise Home Affairs training funds fails

    An attempt to force the Committee for Home Affairs (HA) to try to find £100,000 for law enforcement training from its existing budget has failed after the vote was evenly split 19-19.

    The amendment, proposed by the Policy and Resources Committee (P&R), would have superceded an earlier proposal passed by the States which would grant HA the funds from the capital reserve budget.

    It mirrored a successful amendment under which the Environment and Agriculture Committee has to try to find £100,000 to fund the biodiversity strategy, with the committee able to apply to P&R for the relevant funds from the budget reserve.

    The vote followed a spirited debate between States members, with many accusing P&R of attempting to get around an outcome that it didn't like and go over the heads of HA.

    President of P&R Gavin St Pier defended his committee and their amendment, pointing to the need for consistency in the treatment of committees and to protect the reserves for emergencies.

  15. Proposal to find training costs from Home Affairs budget

    An amendment directing the Home Affairs Committee (HA) to find £100,000 from its own budget for additional training for law enforcement officers is being debated.

    If the committee is unable to find the necessary funds, the Policy and Resources Committee (P&R) would be required to consider providing the funding from reserves.

    The amendment would replace an earlier successful request by HA for the funds to be supplied outright from the budget reserves.

    It mirrors a similar arrangement agreed earlier this week between Environment and Infrastructure and P&R over funding for a biodiversity strategy.

  16. States postpones amendment and closes with general debate

    A final amendment and general discussion of the budget will continue on Friday at 09:30.

    The final amendment proposes that the Home Affairs Committee find £100,000 for additional officer training from its own budget, with the Police and Resources Committee (P&R) only supplying the money "if necessary".

    This would supersede an amendment narrowly agreed on Thursday, which instructed P&R to allocate the funds directly from the budget.

  17. Office for Data Protection agrees to pay back States

    A Home Affairs Committee request for a £900,000 grant to be given to Guernsey's data protection authority has been withdrawn.

    Debate on the amendment was curtailed after the Office for Data Protection came to an agreement with the States to pay back the money provided to them.

    Deputy Mary Lowe said she made the decision after being notified of the successful outcome of the meeting.

  18. Ringfencing £1m for fighting financial crime approved

    Politicians have approved the Home Affairs Committee's request to have £1m of the proposed £1.3m funding for combating economic crime given to them to distribute by 21-15.

    The remaining £300,000 will be distributed to the other organisations involved in the process of tackling financial crime, money laundering and terrorism financing.

  19. Failure to tackle financial crime 'tarnishes reputation'

    Deputy Emilie McSwiggan has opposed ringfencing £1m for the Home Affairs Committee to tackle financial crime, rather than pooling a budget of £1.3m.

    Mrs McSwiggan said that a failure to tackle economic crime was a matter of Guernsey's international reputation, as much as it was for the justice system.

    "If we fall flat in this area it is far more likely to be Policy and Resources than it is Home Affairs, that are held accountable."

    She argued that the implications of a failure to tackle financial crime prevention merited a "joint approach" between the committees responsible for external and home affairs.

  20. Ringfencing £1m to tackle financial crime proposed

    Politicians are currently debating ringfencing £1m for the Home Affairs Committee (HA) to combat economic crime, with up to £300,000 to be allocated to other agencies involved in the efforts.

    Currently, the budget proposes a pooled budget of up to £1.3m to be shared by organisations directly responsible for tackling the financial crime, money laundering and terrorist financing.

    President of HA Mary Lowe recognised that funding must be given to other organisations to assist law enforcement, but argued that ultimate accountability should rest with her committee.

    She said: "Money has to be invested in this area of investigating criminality."

    Criticising the idea of pooling a budget for crime prevention, Mrs Lowe said the current proposal "lacks clarity" and accountability.

    "This vagueness makes it all too easy for responsibility to fall between stalls and criticism to be deflected, rather than owned," she added.