The Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel has written to the Minister for Treasury and Resources requesting that she reconsider her position on repayment disputes relating to the Co-Funded Payroll Scheme (CFPS).
The Panel has received evidence suggesting that CFPS application guidelines were unclear to many applying for support during the Scheme, especially in relation to information about average monthly gross income. It has also been suggested that hostile correspondence has left individuals feeling threatened by the Government and being pressured to pay immediately. The Panel has called for greater communication of an extension of repayment deadlines of up to two years and the Minister has been requested to provide additional information in order to aid in scrutinising the CFPS repayments. Letters have also been written to the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture and Comptroller and Auditor General to gain their views on the matter.
Chair of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, Senator Kristina Moore, said: “It is clear that local business owners have experienced poor treatment over the handling of the audit of the Co-Funded Payroll Scheme, both in terms of the guidance issued at the time of application and in the demands for repayment. At times they been made to feel like criminals when they have provided information in good faith.
“It is concerning to see Islanders receiving demands to repay money within a very short time period when the Government of Jersey has partially contributed to confusion leading to those demands being made. Many of those who have been in contact with us have experienced unnecessary stress, both financially and emotionally, when they had hoped to be moving on from the hardship caused by the Government’s response to the pandemic.
“Although the repayment period has been extended to two years, it appears that this needs to be better communicated. We recommend that the Minister instructs officials to deal with each case on an individual basis. Further leniency is required to ensure that a scheme aimed at helping Islanders does not end up detrimentally impacting them.”
Scrutiny Press Release.