Youth and Student Hustings and the Contruction Council

Yesterday was a busy day. I had to go to the Channel Television studios to record a short piece for them about my 'manifesto' . Immediately after that I walked up to Hautlieu for the Student and Youth hustings. I arrived early and had a chance to met the head teacher, Mrs Toms. The room we used was well laid out and good acoustics., we could probably have managed without the microphones. I counted 23 of the appropriate age group attended, not including deputy Tadier who attended for most of the meeting. Congratulations to Ryan for chairing the meeting and keeping the answers to the time limit enabling more questions than we've had at the other senatorial hustings.

I went off my usual approach for my presentation at this hustings, and without notes. I focused on oil supplies, climate change and tax. I outlined the importance of oil to the world's economy, and the fact production has flat lined and we've used half of known reserves. On climate change we are beyond CO2 concentrations that people originally thought were safe. Even if we halted all emissions those gases would be in the atmosphere and affecting climate for another 20 to 30 years. My generation is significantly responsible for the problem , we have known it was coming but we carried on consuming and polluting beyond what the planet could support. The cost is falling on future generation, and for that I apologised.

I also pointed out that iniquities in parts of our tax system. All those in the room pay tax, GST, even if they have no income or earnings - that's the epitome of a regressive tax system. I also pointed out if they set up a self-employed business they would likely have to pay 6% employees social security, 6 1/2 % employers social security, and up to 20% tax on the profits, even if not actually taken out, thanks to deemed distributions. A non Jersey owned business doing exactly the same would not pay that 20%. if you r competitor happened to be a 1.1.k he or she is likely already paying the ceiling social security and at the threshold in tax. That competition is paying 1% tax on the profits -more than 30% advantage over the school leaver setting going self-employed. That is no way to incentivise enterprise and innovation. Given the huge problems we face from oil dependence and climate change we need every bit of those skills - innovation and enterprise.

I thought at one point I had won the election. In reply to a question on climate change and oil dependency all the candidates said one way to another we were not doing enough. Since the core basis of my campaign is that we are not doing enough and have not set up a proper detailed credible plan to meet things like C02 emission reduction targets, that felt like a victory to me.

Immediately after the hustings it was down to the award winning Radisson Hotel for a presentation and event with the Jersey Construction Council. It seemed to boil down to fiscal stimulus was a great success, can we have some more please, and what are you going to do to help us. I have family contacts in the part so the construction industry, and my view of fiscal stimulus effects on smaller business is not as rosy as portrayed. Those business whose clientele are private householders don't see any benefit while others in the industry get a hand out of work to keep them going through hard times. It is not a level playing field.

I am happy to support the need for training and not just vocational skills, but also things like running a small business since the overwhelming majority of construction companies are 5 or fewer employees and almost half are one man bands it seems. As someone who is keen on economic diversity I went to the event interested in supporting the industry through difficulties , especially where they are using local staff and materials, and circulating the money in the local economy. Those who's work is in maintenance and extending the life of existing building is an all round good thing to do. But we know the big money and the big players are in new builds and big schemes, and this is really where the focus lays when people talk of supporting the industry.What I heard and the approach of the Council did more to put me off than to foster that opinion.

It seems only Mr Cohen and one other person understands the mechanics of determining affordable housing in new developments. I find it very concerning that after the election we may have only one person who understands the scheme. I have never really understood how people could consider £260,000 affordable by people on typical incomes outside the finance industry. The reason became clearer last night.The definition of affordable is what is negotiated as affordable for developers to offer, not what is affordable by people to buy.

One other point to note about the Construction Council. It's membership is nearly 100 companies. But there are more than 1100 businesses in the construction sector in Jersey.

1 comment:

Nick Palmer said...

23? I think that's about two more than in 2008!