Senators Hustings Meeting - St John
All 21 candidates promised to help middle-income earners at a packed St John hustings last night.
With less than a week to go to the Senatorial elections next Wednesday, the candidates vowed to support middle-income earners, with many agreeing that GST should be scrapped or that income tax exemptions and allowances should be protected.
The meeting attracted over 120 voters, with some sitting in the aisle and crowding into the back of the hall.
Parish Constable Graeme Butcher told the audience that he had not seen a parish assembly audience like it, and had not known a meeting in the hall go on as long.
Parishioner Rebecca Reddy asked what support they would give to help middle-income earners who were struggling to live.
Deputy Sarah Ferguson said that States support was better targeted through benefits and marginal income tax than by changing GST.
Deputy Geoff Southern said that middle-income earners were feeling the pinch more. He said that he had worked to push back the ‘20% means 20%’ package to cut income tax allowances, but that it needed to be pushed further back.
Senator Paul Routier said that he shared the concerns of people struggling. ‘20% means 20%’ will affect me,’ he said. ‘I recognise that we need to support people on middle incomes.’
Senator Philip Ozouf said that the competition law was helping all families, including those on middle incomes, by reducing prices, and that he would consider deferring ‘20% means 20%’ to help people.
Nick Le Cornu said that the States put the needs of the privileged few above those on middle incomes and had done nothing to quell the inflationary effect that property speculators had on housing prices.
Nick Palmer said that the middle-earners would continue to suffer, adding that a proper population cap would reduce the immense strain of housing costs on families.
Senator Mike Vibert said that he supported GST coming off food and the States needed to ensure that income tax allowances and thresholds were not set too low.
Montfort Tadier said that GST was ‘crippling’ middle earners and said that there should be more help for middle-income families who had to put their children through university.
Mike Higgins said that ‘we have to get rid of GST’ and went on to say that it was a ‘disgrace that some retailers are charging VAT’ on top of it.
Adrian Walsh said that GST should be removed and that he would not have voted for it had voters elected him in 2002.
Ian Le Marquand said that the effects of ‘20% means 20%’ needed to be seriously looked at. ‘It is going to hit middle-income earners heavily,’ he said.
Daniel Wimberley said that there should be a review of the tax benefit system, including education grants for families with children going to university.
Mark Forskitt said that GST should be removed and replaced with environmental taxes. ‘Insulation grants would help reduce heating bills for people,’ he said.
Deputy Peter Troy said that marginal tax rates and income tax allowances could be ‘tinkered with’. ‘I would like to see extra help for families with two or three children at university and larger tax allowances,’ he said.
Chris Perkins said that there should be more help for families who were sending children to university. He also said that they could remove GST and increase tax allowances.
Trevor Pitman said the solution was for the government to stop treating the middle classes as a tax resource to pay for their wasteful projects, adding that the rich – 1(1)k residents – had to pay their fair share.
Cliff Le Clercq said that working couples could not be fooled by spin and presentation and knew exactly how much they were paying in tax. ‘I hope it makes you mad enough to vote for change,’ he said.
Deputy Alan MacLean said that the middle classes were the ‘forgotten group’, who had not been protected by increased benefits. But he said they were suffering from the cumulative effects of GST, the ‘20% means 20%’ package of income tax allowance and exemption changes, and the rising cost of living.
Jeremy Maçon said that mortgage interest relief had to be maintained, despite planned cuts in the ‘20% means 20%’ package. And he added that parents with children at university should get tax breaks to help them cover the costs.
Mick Pashley said that income tax allowances should be increased and added that proper modern provision for paternity and maternity leave would also reduce stress and pressure. He asked what the point was of having taxes like GST if the States did not use the money to help Islanders.
Deputy Alan Breckon said that unlike other Members on the platform he had voted against both ‘20% means 20%’ and GST, and labelled those who supported them as morally bankrupt. The States had gone after ordinary Islanders, he said, while letting companies move out of the Island and escape any tax liability whatsoever.
[ Source : This Is Jersey ]