Following a meeting of the Emergencies Council, the Government of Jersey has announced a series of new measures, totaling £180 million, designed to provide much-needed support to Islanders and businesses. This includes support for sole traders and small enterprises, as they manage the ongoing cashflow difficulties presented by coronavirus.
These proposals will supplement the initiatives announced last week, including deferring the payment of social security contributions and the deferral of GST payments.
Detailed guidance on those initiatives has been published today, alongside the healthcare modelling that shows the economic impact of coronavirus will potentially be for some considerable time. Therefore, the Government is looking at a range of long and short-term arrangements, necessary to maintain the Island’s future economy and prosperity.
These measures will support continued employment across our economy and maintain key economic infrastructure through a period of unprecedented challenge.
The Government recognise that other measures will need to follow.
Senator Lyndon Farnham, the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture said:
“The Government’s central aim in managing coronavirus is to follow a community-focused approach, led by detailed medical advice, designed to protect our community and save lives.
“Support for business is support for people, protecting jobs, lives and livelihoods. We will stand firmly behind our economy, our businesses and their employees.”
The Jersey Disruption Loan Guarantee Scheme will be introduced to support new bank lending, through loans and overdrafts, to businesses through a Government of Jersey guarantee arrangement. It is recognised that banks may be reluctant to extend new credit to otherwise viable businesses whilst the economic outlook is so uncertain, and the guarantee scheme, with an initial value of £50 million, will remove that uncertainty.
A new Special Situations Fund will be established with £50 million of equity. This will be aimed at larger financial positions where the company can be clearly identified as delivering a wider public good or strategic purpose.
Both measures will require approval of the States Assembly and it is intended that the Minister for Treasury & Resources will bring forward a Proposition as a matter of urgency.
The Emergency Council has also agreed that consideration be given to a small business emergency fund, to provide additional support to the self-employed and the very smallest of businesses. Officers are working on this and I expect to make a further announcement in the coming days.
Critical work has already taken place with the Island’s logistics providers to create additional resilience in Jersey’s supply chain, and working with Condor we have already made improvements to the Island’s freight capacity. Alongside which, we have secured the services of an additional vessel to ensure that our supply chain is maintained if circumstances change.
Telecoms providers have enhanced their data capability, for all Islanders at no extra cost, bolstering the strength of our mobile and broadband networks, which will ensure we are prepared for the growth in home-working, necessary to protect the most vulnerable in our community.
Utility costs often represent a significant factor in cashflow forecasting. As a result, we are working with the utility companies regarding giving customers flexibility in their payment terms, including payment deferrals.
The Government has also already announced that where it is a landlord to a local business (directly or through a Government-owned company), it will consider payment deferrals. Having led by example, we will be proactively seeking similar consideration by commercial landlords to support the continuity of the businesses trading in their properties. Further details will be released imminently.
And, the Government will introduce and fund a scheme that allows small businesses to access a free initial consultation with qualified legal or accounting professionals. This is addition to the support and funding for Jersey Business to provide enhanced advice, that has already been announced.
The measures announced today reflect the gravity of the situation and preparedness of Government to provide political, financial and practical support to significantly mitigate the risks faced by Islanders.
Government of Jersey News Release.