Weekly Client Update – Friday 8 October

Local update

​​Well, I’m delighted to have arrived back on the Island after successfully completing the Macmillan Jersey ‘Lyon to Marseille’ Cycle Challenge which, I have to admit, was just a little tougher than I had imagined or remembered from previous trips. 

The Challenge saw a group of 43 Jersey cyclists complete a four-day journey of more than 340 miles from Lyon to Marseille, including an ascent of Mont Ventoux, the 1,900-metre summit known as the ‘Beast of Provence’.

Whilst the vast majority of the Jersey contingent (including my wife!) successfully reached the top of Mont Ventoux after a gruelling non-stop climb, unfortunately, my lack of preparation together with my unnatural shape for a cyclist (basically too heavy, and built more for comfort than speed) meant that my steady but slow progress up the mountain was a little too late to advance up the final ‘moonscape’ section due to worsening weather conditions and safety concerns. 

The group as a whole nailed it and can duly be proud of their achievement. However, I have that feeling of unfinished business so I’ll just have to return another day to tick this beast off the bucket list.

Stephanie Gibaut, head of income and operations for Macmillan Jersey was delighted that the delayed challenge was eventually able to take place, with proceeds expected to reach around £130,000. Mrs Gibaut said the total raised was likely to make up about 20% of the charity’s annual income and that all the funds would be spent on providing cancer support for any islanders who required help.

Now the Covid latest, Islanders who are aged 16 and over are being encouraged to download the YOTI app in preparation for accessing the digital COVID Status Certification (CSC) scheme, which will include a QR code. The QR code will be used to provide proof of vaccination for travel purposes and domestic use in other countries.

Islanders are being asked to download and register on the free YOTI app to securely prove their identity. YOTI Digital ID is the approved Government Digital ID provider that gives safe and secure access to the Government’s online services.

The YOTI app is already being used in a similar way for the online tax registration process, and over 30,000 Islanders are already successfully registered to the secure authentication app. If an Islander is already registered to YOTI, they will not be required to register again to obtain their digital CSC.

Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, said: “Our teams are working hard to deliver a digital solution to the current COVID Status Certification paper documents. The QR code technology will allow Islanders to travel more freely to international countries. “Islanders will not be able to access their vaccination records online unless they sign up to YOTI, so I would encourage Islanders to download and register to the app as soon as possible. Sometimes it can take a few days for any manual data matching to take place, so it’s important that Islanders register as soon as they can to ensure they have access to the digital CSC once it’s available in the coming weeks.”

Islanders can create a Onegov account online.

The number of Covid cases in Jersey continues to fall. As of today, there are 189 islanders with Covid-19.

As part of this year’s Winter Vaccination Programme, the Government’s annual flu vaccination programme is due to start on Tuesday 12 October. Islanders are being encouraged to get their flu vaccine as soon as they are offered it, as it is possible there will be higher levels of flu this winter, given the virus was low in circulation last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

A high uptake of the vaccine will improve the respiratory health of Islanders and will: help guard against the consequences of catching flu and COVID-19 at the same time, reduce the pressure on the Health Service, reduce the risk of asymptomatic people transmitting COVID-19.

Flu vaccines will be available at GP surgeries and pharmacies. Due to vaccine delivery and distribution dates, Islanders are encouraged to check vaccine availability at their GP surgery or pharmacy before attending on Tuesday. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that it is safe for the flu and COVID-19 vaccines to be given at the same time.

Islanders who are eligible for a COVID-19 booster vaccination will be offered the flu vaccine at their appointment at Fort Regent. The flu vaccination will be available at Fort Regent from Tuesday 12 October.

Mixed markets

After dropping into the red this morning, FTSE is up 5 points at 7,084, while sterling mounts a rally, up 0.1% against the dollar at 1.3633, reversing earlier losses. 

The DAX 30 lost 0.3% to 15,208.73, while the CAC 40 shed 0.2% to 6,586.79.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S&P 500 index lost less than 0.1%, while the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up less than 0.1%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7% to 3,592.17 after Chinese markets reopened following a five-day holiday. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo jumped 1.3% to 28,048.94 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 0.6% to 24,837.35.

Local staff shortages blamed for missing medical records

A number of medical records, which are still stored on paper in Jersey, went missing at the hospital in August, according to the Health Minister.

Deputy Richard Renouf blamed staff shortages for the mishap when questioned by Deputy Kirsten Morel on the matter during a State sitting this week. According to Deputy Renouf, a variety of reasons led to his department’s resources being stretched throughout the summer, resulting in file loss.

 The Health Minister has emphasized the need of continuing to digitize patient records that are currently stored on paper. He stated that this will be completed by the time the new hospital is finished in December 2025.

‘The paper records will be scanned onto a specialized platform and linked with the new electronic patient record system,’ he explained. ‘Thereafter, we expect that it will take 18 months to scan all of the old hospital records, implying that the scanning and electronic solution will be ready for the new hospital’s launch.’

Jersey government assistance programme for paying gas bills

With wholesale gas costs skyrocketing, Jersey Gas said a 13.2% price rise will be implemented later this month, prompting organisations such as the Jersey Consumer Council and Age Concern to warn that disadvantaged Islanders may be unable to afford to heat their homes.

Islanders who may struggle to pay soaring gas bills this winter will be notified of a government assistance program in the coming weeks, the Social Security Minister, Judy Martin has said.

Martin stated that she had directed her officials to “seek a mechanism to give an appropriate additional payment to any of these people that rely on gas to keep their houses warm.”

Restructuring of UK economy

Boris Johnson agrees that restructuring the UK economy will ‘take time.’ The Prime Minister stresses that the ‘previous’ paradigm of ‘uncontrolled migration’ will not be reinstated. He informed conference attendees that he intended to steer the country toward a “high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity” economy.

Ministers enraged the business community this week by accusing it of relying too much on cheap foreign labour before the UK exited the EU and Johnson imposed restrictions on low-skilled immigration.

Companies have urged Prime Minister Johnson to loosen existing immigration rules, citing ongoing labour shortages that have resulted in gaps on grocery shelves and panic buying of gasoline. After the possibility of rising prices roiled bond markets in recent days, the Confederation of British Industry, cautioned that higher salaries alone, without greater productivity, would drive inflation.

UK 10-year borrowing costs, which rise as bond prices fall, reached 1.13% on Wednesday, the highest level in nearly two and a half years, before falling slightly after Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, hinted that the country may increase natural gas supplies to Europe in an effort to stabilize surging prices.

Some investors predict that inflation will reach 6% next spring as a result of the energy supply constraint, and they are concerned that the hype surrounding the transition to a “high-wage economy” would lead to a sustained rise in the cost of living.

Britain’s economic recovery from coronavirus lockdowns is being delayed by supply chain issues, a spike in prices, and the prospect of an increase in unemployment, complicating policymakers’ task of directing the recovery.

Financial markets now believe the Bank of England is very certain to raise interest rates by February, but some economists, concerned about signs of a slowing recovery, are sceptical.

In August, Britain’s inflation rate reached 3.2%, the highest level in a decade. Some one-time events contributed to the record spike in July, but the Bank of England believes inflation will exceed 4%, more than double its objective of 2%.

While the British economy surged fast earlier this year when it emerged from a third COVID-19 shutdown, the most recent data suggest that this impetus has mostly faded. According to official figures, economic growth slowed to a halt in July, and surveys of businesses and consumers indicate that sluggish growth will continue into the second half of the year – even before the most severe supply chain difficulties witnessed in recent weeks.

Fuel shortages drive prices up

Petrol stations are charging over £3 per litre to ‘scare off customers’ as the fuel situation worsens. One customer said she expected to pay £30 for the diesel she bought, but she ended up paying more than £100 – more than double the national average.

It comes after the RAC warned that prices for motorists will skyrocket in the run-up to Christmas. According to the driving organization, fuel and diesel prices have already approached levels recorded in autumn 2013 and are on their way to the record highs set in April 2012.

This is due to the price of oil reaching a three-year high and has nothing to do with the fuel crisis, but it means motorists will experience “double agony at the pumps,” according to the RAC. During September, the average price of both fuel and diesel was £12 more than the previous year. Unleaded petrol increased by 22p from 1.5p to 136.83p, while diesel increased by 2.5p to 139.25p – a 21p gain.

Greenlight for more countries to travel

According to the government, the number of nations on the UK Covid travel red list will be reduced from 54 to seven.

South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico have been removed from the red list, which requires travellers to spend 10 days quarantined at an authorised hotel at their own expense.

The reforms, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, will go into effect on Monday and will “mark the next stage” in opening up travel.

This next decision will be welcomed by the airline industry and families who have been separated because of the pandemic.