The British Empire, alive and well in 2018, just off the South Coast
The news yesterday that the cost of living has risen by almost 5% on the island of Jersey this year, might ignite you with complete indifference or even a degree of schadenfreude. Why, after all, should we mere mainland UK dwellers shed any tears for the super-rich who live a low tax life of idleness on this quiet and tranquil channel island? A brief glance at the requirements for residency is enough to get us reaching for our ‘Class War’ badges.
Income tax is (the channel islands are internationally known as ‘tax havens’) 20% on the first £725,000 of worldwide income (amounting to tax of £145,000), plus an additional 1% on all income above this level. However, if you don’t earn this much, you probably won’t be eligible to buy or live there.
The purchase of property is controlled by the Jersey Government’s Housing Committee and only persons possessing Jersey Housing qualifications are granted consent to purchase property. As an outsider you essentially have two ways to acquire these qualifications:
As a Licensed Resident. If you are moving to Jersey for work, your employer will have to obtain permission for an essential employment permit in order to bring you to the island and you will therefore be classed as a “Licensed” Resident. This is not easy as they will have to show that they need someone with a skill set not already available on the island, and even then if this skill is deemed likely to be readily available in future, the Population Office may take a decision not to allow the Licensed resident (you) occupying this particular post to buy property.
With High Value Residency status. There are limited opportunities for a few prospective residents, to contribute at least £125,000 tax, annually and meet minimum income requirements of £625,000. Once High Value Residency status has been granted, the applicant may apply for consent to purchase a property and will be granted the same status as other residentially qualified islanders. They can be employed and employ and set up their own business in the Island and will be expected to purchase or lease a single residential property worth in excess of GBP 1.75m.
So, we won’t be shedding any tears for the poor rich people there when we hear that, if you take the year 2000 as 100 then the Retail Price Index is now 173.5 – it’s getting close to twice as expensive to live there now as it was just 18 years ago.
But hold those crocodile tears for a moment. The last census survey on Jersey was in 2011 and it showed that only half the people living there came from elsewhere. 50% of the island’s 100,000 population are native and life isn’t so easy for them. In 2018 the Jersey Statistics Unit reported that “19% of all households find it difficult to cope financially, this figure rises in couples with children to 25% which is one in four families and in single parent households this proportion goes up to 44% which approaching half of this population group.”
These are depressing figures indeed, but misleadingly positive. Since half the population comes from elsewhere and since they need either a secure job using an essential skill or an income of £725K to have much chance of living there, you can reckon that virtually none of them are among the households ‘finding it difficult to cope financially’. So, in other words, you can safely double these figures to get a true picture of poverty among the indigenous population of Jersey. That is 38% of their households find it difficult to cope, 50% of couples with children and 88% of single parent families.
Imagine an island in which the super rich interlopers are served by the super poor natives. Don’t worry chaps, The British Empire is alive and well in 2018, just off the South coast.