VAT by any other name

a heavy burden

Jersey apparently has the third highest income per head of population in the world, but Beta Mum and I are doing our bit to redress the balance.

Moving here has thrust us into a comparatively low income bracket, which is not easy in a world without the likes of Tesco or Sainsbury.

For instance:

A report in 2004 looked at comparative food prices in Jersey and the UK.
It found that average meat prices were 22% higher in Jersey, vegetables 15% and fruit 20% higher, a sliced white loaf cost on average 70% more and a pint of milk 60% more.

But fear not.
Jersey’s Have-Nots – and there are plenty of them – do have the advantage of several Pound Shops dotted round the island.
At least they will until next month, when they become £1.03 Shops.

That’s because Jersey is about to introduce its own form of VAT.

It’s called GST (Goods and Services Tax) and will be introduced at a rate of 3%.
The Pound Shops say they can’t absorb the extra cost because their margins are so tight.

The introduction of GST has not gone down well in the island.

No-one wants to pay more tax.
And the politics of taxation means there are always other options that some see as more equitable.

There’s also the lingering fear – based on the UK’s experience – that any kind of economic turmoil will give the government the easy option of raising the 3% to increase tax revenue.

Jersey’s M&S franchise already adds an extra 5% to food prices at the till – just for making the effort to get the stuff across the Channel and onto the shelves while it’s still fresh.

Perhaps the Pound Shop would do well to remind Marks and Spencers of its humble origins on a market stall in Leeds, where Michael Marks’ slogan was –

“Don’t ask the price, it’s a penny.”

Jersey’s 21st century equivalent – “Don’t ask the Price, it’s a Pound and Thruppence” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

About Beta Mum

Here you can find the ramblings of a trapeze artist turned journalist who ran away from the circus to join the BBC. Cathy "mine's a Kir Royale" Keir then spent thirteen years working in Jersey, Guernsey and Devon, before downgrading to what you see before you. She has contributed articles to The Guardian, The Stage and Television Today, Junior Magazine and both the BBC and Bad Mothers Club websites. She has two children who think women can’t be prime ministers. She blames herself.
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3 Responses to VAT by any other name

  1. Jen says:

    I still can’t believe that Jersey Royals are cheaper in Sainsburys than when I used to buy them from the market in Jersey.

    My fave wine is cheaper in the ‘expensive’ village shop than it was at home too.

    But… but… oh, the tax… and council tax… and National Insurance…

    AArrrggh… (and other things)

  2. Omega Mum says:

    This is a serious suggestion. You’ve arrived on Jersey at the beginning of a time when I suspect there’s going to be much more interest in it because of all the stuff that’s going on. Generally, there’s a movement for change which I reckon will gather momentum – look at the way Sark (not directly comparable, I know, but interesting) is changing electoral system.

    I’ve read quite a bit about the pressure from big business interests and how these are serving the ‘ordinary’ people – badly, by all accounts. I think you should start taking a lot of notes. Could be a fascinating read. Mind you, you wouldn’t have any friends among the rich and powerful and might receive death threats but it could be amazing. Flog it in! R4 documentary.

  3. Beta Mum says:

    Jen – Jersey Royals are not the only thing that’s cheaper in Sainsburys. LIving here has made France seem cheap.

    OM – it is an interesting time, and will doubtless be much written about. R4 have already done a documentary, but I imagine there’ll be scope for a few more over the coming years.

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