Wednesday 31 August 2022
The Committee for Employment & Social Security has submitted a Policy Letter proposing an emergency increase in income support rates to assist those on the lowest incomes in response to the rate at which the cost-of-living has been increasing recently.
The Committee is proposing that a 5% increase is applied to the income support requirement rates (the level of income below which people can receive income support), the limit of weekly income for people living in the community (also known as the benefit limitation), and the maximum rent allowances (the maximum amount that income support can contribute towards rental payments).
If the Propositions are approved by the States, these changes will take effect from 7th October 2022.
This will close some of the gap between the current income support rates and the current cost of food, fuel, rent and other essential goods and services.
These proposals are simply an interim step towards the rates that will be proposed to take effect from January 2023, through the ordinary uprating of all non-contributory benefits. Those proposals will be brought to the States as usual for debate in November 2022, alongside the Budget for 2023, and will take into account the interim increase of 5%, proposed to take effect in October.
The Committee is also proposing a 23% increase in the rate of the winter fuel allowance, which reflects the annual change in the price of the fuel and light element of the RPIX figure in the year which ended 30th June 2022. This allowance is paid to householders in receipt of income support between the last week in October and the last week in April of the year following. In contrast to the other increases proposed in the Policy Letter, the increase in winter fuel allowance is not an interim measure, albeit the rate of increase proposed is higher than normal due to the high cost of fuel at present.
Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the Committee for Employment & Social Security, said:
"We're very grateful to the Presiding Officer for allowing the Committee to submit this Policy Letter at such short notice.
"Although the cost-of-living crisis is not unique to Guernsey, we need to ensure that we do what we can, as soon as we can, for Islanders on the lowest incomes, who are already feeling the impact of the increasing cost of food, fuel and many other essentials.
"If you don't currently receive income support and are struggling to make ends meet, I urge you to get in contact with the Income Support team to see what financial support may be available to you."
Islanders can contact the Income Support team by emailing IncomeSupport@gov.gg or by calling 01481 222508.