Jersey homeowners encouraged to rent out rooms in return for a tax break
Homeowners are being encouraged to let out spare rooms in return for a tax break as part of a newly launched scheme to tackle the housing crisis. Under the government’s ‘Rent A Room Scheme’, homeowners can gain tax relief on rent that they receive for letting a bedroom in their own home from the start of this year, provided the total gross income does not exceed £10,000. Housing Minister David Warr said: ‘The 2021 Census found that around one quarter of households were under occupying their accommodation, and this initiative is designed to encourage those empty bedrooms to be used. ‘The scheme builds on the current tax treatment of lodger income and I am confident that it will lead to an increase in accommodation for people seeking somewhere to stay for a relatively short time. That might be foreign language students, or workers in Jersey for short-term contracts, or Islanders who just need a bedroom. ’He added: ‘Whoever it is, they are likely to feel more welcome, and more in touch with Island life, if they’re staying in someone’s home.’
The scheme was previously welcomed by St Brelade’s College, an organisation which has managed the placement of overseas students in local homes for around 45 years. Sid Brown, principal of the college, said: ‘In our experience, many prospective hosts are deterred by the fact that they have to declare and pay tax on the income, possibly because they are scared they may fall foul of the tax department and are often unaware that there is a 50% reduction in the tax rate if they provide meals. ‘In simple economic terms, the fewer home-stay places we have, the fewer students will come to Jersey resulting in less income for local households, teachers and suppliers not to mention airline and ferry operators. In our view, this scheme will result in a net gain by increasing capacity while at the same time eliminating the totally unnecessary administrative costs of overseeing this tax.’
For more information visit ‘Renting a room in your home’ on the Jersey government website.
Jersey received ‘highest visitor recommendation score’ in 2022
Visit Jersey says it hopes to continue to create a ‘world-class’ tourist experience in 2023 after receiving its highest-ever visitor recommendation score last spring. Claire Lyons, the organisation’s interim chief executive, listed a range of successes for the Island’s tourism industry last year, including its best ‘net promoter’ ranking, which measures the likelihood that visitors will recommend a destination to family and friends.
Ms Lyons also revealed that visitor numbers had recovered well following the Covid lockdowns, particularly in the UK and German markets, and that the number of nights visitors spend in the Island had slightly increased. She wrote: ‘With ongoing dialogue, innovative thinking and collaboration we can develop and grow a world-class, enriching visitor experience that positively contributes to the health and vibrancy of our economy, community, environment and heritage. ‘Looking at the numbers – September 2022 against September 2019 – shows that total passenger arrivals have recovered to more than 70% of January-September 2019 levels, and that visitors are spending more time in the Island, with the average length of stay increasing from 4.4 nights in 2019 to 5.0 days in 2022.
‘It is not just the quantity of visitors coming that matters, but also the quality of their experience. As an island we achieved our highest ever net-promoter score in the second quarter of 2022.‘NPS is a widely used industry metric which measures the likelihood that visitors will recommend a destination to their family and friends. ‘Any score above 50 is considered excellent and Jersey scored an impressive 70 (for context, the lowest possible score is –100 and the popular destination of Australia scored a 43 in 2018/2019).’
Visit Jersey recently launched a new marketing campaign aimed at UK holidaymakers which will run until April and feature in national newspapers, ITV, Channel 4 and on the London Underground. It features a range of scenic images and reprises the ‘Curiously Brit(ish)’ slogan first used last year which promotes the Island as a ‘place that’s familiar, yet ever so slightly exotic’. Looking ahead to the 2023 season, Ms Lyons wrote: ‘Tourism must grow and develop in Jersey in a sustainable, productive and co-ordinated way and we believe that, together, working with both industry and government, we can drive the visitor economy forward. ‘A tourism strategy with a long-term vision will enable the industry to thrive in Jersey, moving from recovery to its renewal and growth and we look forward to building this strategy with industry and government colleagues in the near- and long-term.’
Petrol prices in Jersey now higher than UK
Petrol retailers are facing calls to be more transparent after prices at the pumps rose higher than in the UK. Jersey Consumer Council chair Carl Walker said the price of fuel was contributing to the spiralling cost of living for Islanders – not just motorists – and that suppliers were quick to raise pump prices in line with changes to wholesale costs, but slow to pass on any drops in price. The latest data from the RAC shows an average UK price for unleaded petrol of £1.52 per litre, a fall of almost 40 pence since a peak of £1.91 in early July. However, this reduction has not been reflected in the Island as the pricecomparison.je website operated by the JCC shows current prices in Jersey ranging from £1.63 to £1.90. The price of the cheapest unleaded petrol in Jersey peaked at 179.9p per litre in mid-July, according to fuelwatch.je.
A petition lodged by Jon Best, of ATF Fuels, signed by more than 5,000 people last year called for a reduction of 2.5p per litre to help those hit by the cost-of-living crisis, but the government rejected the move, with Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf describing it as a ‘blunt tool’. Ministers favoured more targeted assistance to those suffering financially. A report accompanying Deputy Renouf’s response stated that it was difficult to determine retailers’ profits as each company had different operating costs, but added that there was no evidence profits were excessive. The report also highlighted price differences between different retailers in Jersey that could result in a difference of £10 in the price of a tank of petrol.
A 9p reduction in fuel duty was one of the measures proposed by the Consumer Council during 2022 – now Mr Walker has renewed that call. Mr Walker said: ‘Historically motorists have got used to Jersey being a low-duty Island, with signs at filling stations advising of the last chance to fill up before the ferry – but now it’s the other way round and those signs should be on the English side. ’He added that Islanders who may have used their cars less over the festive period would feel the pinch as they returned to work this week and resumed the school-run at the start of the spring term. He said: ‘There is a perception that fuel prices don’t affect people who don’t drive, but in reality everyone’s affected – all the items on shelves in shops have had to be delivered, and the taxis, buses, fire engines and ambulances that we need all have to be fuelled.’
‘The duty difference is rebalanced to some extent by VAT and GST [with 20% tax added to the UK price compared to only 5% in Jersey], but then there are also the costs of delivering fuel to Jersey,’ he said. ‘The difference in scale is also significant – Jersey’s total demand for road fuel is around 50 million litres, while ten large supermarket sites in the UK would have a similar volume.’
Islanders hit by baggage-handling chaos
Islanders on a British Airways flight to Heathrow have become the latest victims of baggage-handling chaos at airports – with one passenger being left with only winter clothing in 30°C heat in Sri Lanka. Kirstie Taylor said that her bag and 46 others were left at Jersey Airport on Boxing Day because workers were unable to load them into her flight to London. The chaos came just days after Swissport took over BA’s ground-handling operations from Island firm Airline Services. Both BA and Swissport have cited poor weather as the cause of baggage loading delays that have wreaked havoc throughout the busy holiday travel period. Ms Taylor said: ‘I heard they couldn’t fit the last two containers on board – they told BA but they didn’t notify any of us that they were doing this. ‘We were advised to board our next flights to Sri Lanka and told that my bag would be on another flight.’
However, the Islander’s luggage never made it to her final destination – leaving her in 30-degree heat with winter clothing and none of her belongings. ‘I haven’t even got my contact lenses,’ she said, adding that despite completing a missing-bag report there had been ‘no progress at all’ in recovering her property since Boxing Day. ‘I’m here until 16 January – there aren’t really many shops where we are. ’Other Islanders have voiced frustration on social media, with one saying they were thinking of sending their luggage ‘a month before we travel to ensure we get it when we arrive’. Another commented: ‘Bags didn’t make it on the plane to Heathrow. We were promised they would be put on plane the next morning and they weren’t.’
In a statement, British Airways said: ‘We’re doing everything we can to reunite our customers with their delayed baggage as quickly as possible, including bringing in extra resources to help clear the backlog. ‘We apologise for the delay and inconvenience caused and can reassure our customers everything possible is being done to return their bags to them.’ Earlier this year, BA’s parent company, IAG, decided not to continue contracting handling agent Airline Services – a decision that made Swissport the only ground-handling company operating at Jersey Airport
Ms Taylor said: ‘Maybe they are stretched or maybe it’s just a lack of communication between them and BA. I feel like there are always going to be teething problems with a handover but what stood out to me was the lack of service. However, Swissport have said there are currently no ‘luggage backlogs’ in Jersey. ‘Swissport is proud to serve a growing number of airlines at Jersey Airport. We employ over 80 professionals in all of our service areas,’ a spokesperson said. ‘Delays experienced of late have been mostly slot delays due to adverse weather.’ A spokesperson for Ports of Jersey said the Airport was continuing to liaise with the airline and ground handling providers ‘to support them where we can with their resourcing challenges’. ‘We sympathise and apologise to our airport customers who have been inconvenienced, and we will continue to work closely with our business partners to ensure customer service is the best it can be,’ they added
Why do porpoises go north while dolphins head south?
Porpoises steer clear of Jersey’s south coast, it has emerged. New research from the government’s Marine Resources Department has shown that groups of the elusive creatures gather off the Island from mid-December to early March. Underwater listening devices – which record and measure the echolocation clicks of dolphins and porpoises – also revealed that their encounters with dolphins are rare, meaning that – for reasons unclear – the two species do not live side by side. Although dolphins and porpoises are both mammals, the former has a longer snout, bigger mouth and more curved dorsal fin.
Porpoises also limit themselves to the north and west of the Island. There are 32 dolphin species but only six porpoise species, with the harbour porpoise found around Jersey. Since 2016, when the first ‘hydrophone’ was deployed, the number of devices has increased to 51, and over the last six years there have been nearly 6,000 recorded encounters with dolphins and porpoises. Marine resources head Dr Paul Chambers said: ‘We can tell from their clicks that the porpoises seem to spend their entire time feeding, so we can presume that the reason they’re here is for food, perhaps squid.’ He added: ‘The intriguing thing is, why only the north and west coasts? St Catherine’s Breakwater is a dividing line and we’ve had hydrophones either side; the one to the north has porpoises and the one south doesn’t. ‘They are very shy and more active at night ,so no one had ever spotted this before. ‘Where they go when they’re not around Jersey is the million-dollar question. It is not in Channel Island waters, as they are rarely recorded on the hydrophone network, which now covers the whole area, during the summer months.
‘There are some encounters recorded during the spring and summer, but these are few and far between and last mere seconds. In the winter, we get hours and hours of continuous porpoise activity off the north and south-west coasts. ’Dr Chambers added: ‘When the porpoises are inshore, we seem to get fewer dolphin encounters. Whether this is because the dolphins and porpoises can’t co-exist or because the porpoises move into areas when the dolphins go elsewhere is difficult to say. ’Asked why this research was important, Dr Chambers said: ‘All cetacean species are protected locally and are considered iconic by many Islanders, including our fishing community, who have helped with our various research projects. We have always worked with local organisations, such as the Société Jersiaise, to collect sightings and other data on our marine life but this does have its limitations.
Cycling campaigner: Jersey could take inspiration from Netherlands
Jersey could take ‘inspiration’ from the Netherlands when it comes to promoting safe and sustainable travel, according to a member of the Cycle4Jersey advocacy group. Alistair Mitchell made the comments after Shelley Bontje, a project manager at the Dutch Cycling Embassy – an organisation promoting sustainability and bicycle use – gave a presentation in the Island at the invitation of the Association of Jersey Architects.
Her talk focused on the differences and comparisons between the Netherlands and Jersey, concerning place-making, traffic and cycling. One suggestion, which Mr Mitchell said was cited by Ms Bontje during her talk, was that the Island could prioritise the use of its roads for different traffic types including cars and bicycles. He added that this could help decide where infrastructure changes – such as traffic-calming measures and slower speed limits – might be needed. ‘The inspiration that they [the Dutch Cycling Embassy] have brought over and the link they have offered – I feel that will be built on. ‘So it will be about running ideas past these people, asking what they think would be a good thing to do here and double-checking with someone who has already been through the system and done it all.
‘The key to it is that there is not one thing that we are going to do that is going to transform everything – it’s got to be a whole load of different things,’ he continued. However, Mr Mitchell said he believed the Island was already making progress toward greater levels of sustainable travel, with more people choosing to walk and cycle as a result of the Covid pandemic. ‘I think lockdown made a huge difference – we all saw more people exploring the lanes around where they live and rediscovering the enjoyment of walking and cycling,’ he added.
Permanent memorial for those who lost their lives in Jersey’s recent tragedies ‘should be considered’
A permanent memorial to Islanders who lost their lives in recent tragedies should be considered, the Constable of St Helier has said. Simon Crowcroft said he had been contacted by a parishioner asking about the future of the site at Haut du Mont in Pier Road, where nine Islanders died following an explosion in a residential block last Month. ‘The discussion I had was about whether it would be right to rebuild on the site for housing, or whether creating some form of memorial would be more appropriate,’ he said.‘It is definitely something that I think should be considered further, and it would seem to make sense to do something in that area, if not at that exact location.’
Mr Crowcroft said that he felt it would also be right to consider whether the same memorial should honour both the Haut du Mont victims and the three fishermen lost at sea also last month when their trawler collided with a cargo ship in St Ouen’s Bay. ‘I’m sure members of the public will come forward with ideas and I would hope the government would talk to the parish if the memorial is going to be in St Helier,’ he said. ‘Crucially I would expect that the views of the families of those who lost their lives, and residents of Haut du Mont, would be taken into account – they are the people who will continue to be most impacted by this.
New Year Reflection
New year is the perfect time to rearrange our goals in life and work towards them. It’s that time of the year which reminds us all that even though we may not have reached our personal ambitions in the past year, there is much more to achieve in life and new possibilities will surely come our way in the next 365 days. Be it switching to a healthier lifestyle, eliminating vices or taking up a sport—the new year is full of such new opportunities. In general, the New Year starts on 1st January but, in some cultures around the world, people celebrate New Year on many other dates as well. We all believe that the start of the New Year is like a new beginning in our life and so, we do everything possible to make the upcoming year better, and if we were unable to fulfil last year’s resolutions, then this is the right time to wipe the slate clean and start afresh!
We wish all of our clients a very Happy New Year!
European markets are mixed today. The FTSE 100 is up 0.42% while the CAC 40 gains 0.07%. The DAX is off 0.12%.
Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 339.69 points, or 1.02%, to 32,930.08. The S&P 500 shed 1.16% to close at 3,808.10 and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 1.47% to 10,305.24.
Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Nikkei 225 gained 0.59% and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.08%. The Hang Seng lost 0.29%.