Client Weekly Update – Friday 13 May

Local update

The Government of Jersey is now entering an election period and will be conducting its public affairs differently to maintain an impartial election. Nominations will remain open until 12 July 2022 (when the Council of Ministers is elected) Ministers will retain executive responsibilities but will observe discretion when initiating any new long-term policies and will restrict the publicity issued in connection with their role as Minister.

Heatwave on the way

Jersey is set for a blast of hot weather – with temperatures forecast to hit 25°C next week. This weekend is expected to be relatively sunny, with temperatures of about 20°C – but with the risk of thundery showers later on Saturday and then again late on Sunday. Much warmer air is then due to push up from France, with temperatures in the low to mid-20s by the start of next week.

Sharon Merren, the duty forecaster at Jersey Met, said: ‘We are expecting a change over the weekend with thundery showers coming up from France on Saturday afternoon and evening ‘This will herald a change, bringing southerly winds and warmer air. At the moment, it looks like we will see the highest temperatures during the first half of next week, possibly reaching 25°C on Tuesday. ’There is also the slight risk of a shower on Monday and Tuesday.

The UK Met Office, which issues longer range forecasts on its website, says the warm weather is likely to last throughout next week, but there will be the risk of rain at times.

Finance firm to trial 4-day week

A finance firm is due to trial a four-day working week across its Channel Island offices this summer. PwC, which is conducting the pilot scheme, will continue to open its offices in Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney five days a week and employees’ pay will not be reduced. The working arrangement has been trialled across a number of countries including Iceland, New Zealand and Spain.

Nick Vermeulen, the senior partner of PwC Channel Islands, said that employees had emerged from the Covid pandemic with ‘different expectations of what constituted a ‘healthy work-life balance’. ‘“Although we’ve had strong flexibility policies for our own people here at PwC for some time now, we’re determined to do even more to be a great, innovative employer, rewarding and retaining both our current teams, as well as being a magnet for future talent in the islands. We’re keen ultimately to embrace a new model of work which focuses on quality of outputs, not quantity of hours,” he said.

‘The pilot is based on a UK model of focused work, where there’s 100% pay for 80% of hours but with 100% productivity. ‘We believe a measure of success of this trial will be in having a team of people who are healthier both mentally and physically, who are focused, engaged and determined to get the job done in a way that suits their diverse needs,’ he added.

Earlier this year, Chief Minister John Le Fondré said that a four-day working week would ‘not be appropriate’ for workers in many government departments. However, he said that the government was running a number of pilots considering ‘flexibility around where, when or how many hours people work’, and added that ‘early indications regarding productivity, efficiency and improved wellbeing were positive’.

Siam Cup Weekend

Jersey RFC’s much-acclaimed National League generation will reunite to take on Guernsey’s veterans – boasting over 2,000 first-team caps and a former England international. 

Matt Banahan has been coaxed out of retirement for the 2022 Nash Cup and will play at outside centre, alongside a host of players deemed responsible for the club’s eventual rise into the Championship. 

Player-coach Steve O’Brien will lead the Caesareans for a high-profile precursor to the showpiece Siam Cup clash, with the likes of Latu Maka’afi, Talite Vaioleti and Nathan Hannay all due to return.

Maka’afi and O’Brien both scored in Jersey’s Siam victory at Footes Lanes in 2006 – the year Banahan last played for the Island. ‘I started my career with these boys when we played amateur rugby. We all come into sport as an amateur, playing with your mates, so to come back and play with them, it’s a good feeling.’The former Bath back, who sits seventh on the Premiership’s all-time try-scoring chart, with 71, was also approached by Reds Athletic coach Myles Landick for the Siam fixture. ‘I’m not up for taking it that serious anymore,’ Banahan added. ‘I’m sure the boys will do well.’

The Nash Cup is due to kick off at 10.30am on Saturday morning. It will be followed by the Women’s Siam at 12.30pm and the men’s Siam at 3pm.

Harvey Biljon admits he should cast his mind back to where his Jersey Reds career began much more often, as he prepares for arguably one of the club’s biggest games in recent history. The South African director of rugby, who switched Penzance for St Peter in January 2014, masterminded a relegation escape act on the final day of the 2013/14 Championship season and has since turned the Islanders into one of the more formidable forces within the second tier.

Jersey Reds are getting ready for back-to-back Siam Cup challenges that will provide the climax to the 2021/22 season. 

The Reds and their oldest rivals Guernsey Raiders will face off on successive Saturdays in May as part of moves to catch up with fixtures lost during the Covid pandemic. One of the oldest trophies in rugby, originally presented in 1920, will once again be up for grabs.

Three games took place in Guernsey last November, with the home side lifting the Nash and Ladies Siam trophies while the visiting Reds winning the Siam Cup by the narrowest of margins.

On Saturday, May 14th there will be three games at Stade Santander International as follows:

  • 10.30am: Nash Cup – Jersey Wanderers v Guernsey Vets
  • 12.30pm: Ladies Siam – Jersey Reds Women v Guernsey Ladies
  • 3pm: Siam Cup, sponsored by Santander International – Jersey Reds Athletic v Guernsey Raiders

The following Saturday (May 21st), at the Garenne Stand in Guernsey, there will be two matches:

  • 12pm: Ladies Siam: Guernsey Ladies v Jersey Reds Women
  • 3pm: Siam Cup – Guernsey Raiders v Jersey Reds Athletic

Mixed markets

The FTSE 100 recovered after heavy losses earlier this week and was up 1.1% at 7,310.79, this morning. The FTSE 250 was also up just over 1% at 19,729.28.

European markets are sharply higher today with shares in France leading the region. The CAC 40 is up 1.59% and Germany’s DAX is up 1.37%.

According to data from Compound Capital Advisors, the S&P 500 closed 0.2% lower yesterday, creeping closer to bear market territory, with the benchmark down about 18% in the first 90 trading days of 2022, marking its second-worst start to a year. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 100 points to end its sixth consecutive losing day, while the Nasdaq Composite finished just above breakeven.

Asian markets finished broadly higher today with shares in Hong Kong leading the region. The Hang Seng is up 2.71% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 is up 2.64% and China’s Shanghai Composite is up 0.92%.

Fear of recession grows

Analysts have warned that the possibility of a recession has increased after the economy declined in March, just as the UK was recovering from the pandemic.

Higher prices are “starting to bite,” according to the UK statistics authority, with individuals spending less and reducing car trips as a result of rising fuel prices.

The effect of rising energy prices in April is also unknown.

The economy expanded by 0.8% in the first three months of the year but dropped by 0.1% in March as consumers trimmed back.

The economy received its biggest boost in January when the hotel and tourist industries recovered from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

That was, however, before the Ukraine war and before people began to feel the strain of rising prices.

Paul Dales, Chief UK economist at Capital Economics, said the latest figures “suggest the economy had less momentum than we thought even before the full hit from the cost of living crisis has been felt”.

Cost-of-living crisis: Boris Johnson wants to cut 90,000 civil servants

As ministers face increasing pressure to help relieve the cost of living problem with prospective tax cuts, the government could lose as many as 90,000 public sector posts in a cost-cutting exercise championed by Boris Johnson.

On Thursday, the prime minister reportedly informed his cabinet that the civil service headcount should be slashed by a fifth, saving more than £3 billion.

According to sources involved with the discussions, he informed ministers that the civil service would be restored to 2016 levels in the coming years.

Since then, as the impact of Brexit on government and public life has raised the demand for civil servants, staffing levels have increased.

Meanwhile, the EU’s top negotiator in the Northern Ireland protocol dispute has urged the British government to stop threatening unilateral action and begin discussing a new post-Brexit deal.

EU officials have also questioned the timing of the United Kingdom’s threat to withdraw from parts of the protocol, arguing that it jeopardises the international alliance’s unity in the face of Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine.