Inter-island Partnership with Guernsey

Wednesday 27 June 09:33

A forum of senior politicians and officials from Guernsey and Jersey met formally for the first time in Jersey yesterday (25 June).

The Channel Island Political Oversight Board was established under the joint chairmanship of both islands’ Chief Ministers, to support ongoing cooperation between the two islands’ public administrations, and to find and support new partnership opportunities to improve our public services and reduce costs to taxpayers.

Jersey’s Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, and Guernsey’s Chief Minister, Deputy Gavin St Pier, met at Jersey’s Cyril Le Marquand House, alongside their respective Chief Executives, Paul Whitfield and Charlie Parker, and senior politicians and officials from both islands. From Jersey, this included the Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, and the Minister for Health, Deputy Richard Renouf. From Guernsey, this included President of the Committee for Health and Social Care, Deputy Heidi Soulsby and the external relations lead, Deputy Jon Le Tocq.

The Board discussed and agreed a pipeline of opportunities across a wide range of public services, and agreed some priority work streams, where significant progress can be made within the next 6-12 months. These include:

  • joint working on policy development, including through joint commissioning of external experts, secondments of policy officials between islands, joint teams, joint island community engagement, joint performance measures and the potential for a joint graduate programme with placements in both islands
  • introducing a shadow Channel Islands Health Authority to promote joint working in health and care, including joint procurement of IT and other operational services, professional liaison, recruitment, shared learning and education, to support the improvements to the provision of health and care services in both communities
  • setting up a joint digital transformation board to work together on the delivery of technology to speed up online services for islanders
  • a formal partnership for public sector procurement, including contract and supplier management, to improve value for money and reduce costs
  • a commitment to sharing data and analytics

The Board recognised that there have been attempts in the past to work more closely, but that these had generally foundered as difficulties arose, for a variety of reasons, but that there has been more effective joint working between the two public services in 2018, on areas such as inter-island sea links, Brexit and external relations, cyber-security and civil aviation.

Jersey’s Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said: “Our two islands have not always worked effectively for the common good in the past, because we haven’t put the political weight behind the partnership and officials have defaulted to their respective silos. This new initiative is different, as it is setting specific targets against both islands’ government business plans, financial plans and transformation programmes. It is not only championed by both Chief Ministers, but also has the full commitment of our public service leaders. We’re determined to work together to deliver better services at better value for money for our islanders.”

Guernsey’s Chief Minister, Deputy Gavin St Pier, said: “Guernsey and Jersey have well recognised common challenges and common opportunities. Today’s meeting has helped us raise our ambitions – not just to focus on quick wins, but to transform the way that we work in order to make public services better and to reduce the cost of providing those services in over the medium to long-term.

“Frankly, there should be no obstacles to why we cannot share some aspect of most of the public services delivered in both islands. That means not just working together, but jointly procuring in a way that unlocks shared benefits, sharing data, and developing policy together. Both Senator Le Fondré and I are determined that we should be able to identify and target savings which can be made – and then include these in the next iteration of both islands’ Medium Term Financial Plans to help drive change.”

Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, said: “Our islands face significant international challenges – whether from Brexit, cybercrime, or threats to our financial services industries – and Jersey and Guernsey are already working closely together on these issues. So it’s sensible that we also work together across a much wider range of policy and operational areas, pooling our expertise and sharing the benefits for our islanders.”

Guernsey’s President of the Committee for Health and Social Care, Deputy Heidi Soulsby, said: “Today’s meeting has given some much-needed momentum to pan-Channel Islands work on health and care. The creation of a shadow Channel Islands Health Authority is a logical step. Jersey and Guernsey share common challenges in terms of health and care, and there are real gains that can be made by working together – which is very much in keeping with the transformation plans in both Islands, and supports the Guernsey Partnership of Purpose adopted in December.”

Senior officials have also met on three occasions in Guernsey and Jersey since March, and have established the previously announced Channel Islands Public Service Board. This is chaired jointly by the two Chief Executives, is responsible for identifying the range of areas for collaboration for approval by the Political Oversight Board, and for delivering joint working on the ground.

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