Just back from a wee break on the island of Guernsey. When you get there you can't help fall in love with its beauty. Its rocky jagged coastline, its beautiful beaches, narrow winding tree lined roads and a pleasant climate. What is there not to love? The one thing you notice early on, is that there are an abundance of restaurants, most on the pricey side, obviously they are not trying to attract the ordinary Joe. So, apart from being a up-market tourist destination, what is Guernsey. Like the rest of this capitalist world, it is two worlds, the surface shiny polished one, and then the under side, the usual grinding poverty. One taxi drive we spoke to, they are great for info, said that he worked on the roads, but worked 5 nights a week on the taxis to make ends meet. It doesn't sound much like the idyllic way of life.
So, my take on the island.
Guernsey, ‘Inconvenient truth’ of child poverty gap
Idyllic island, lots of beaches, walks, and a mild to warm climate, a rich island that earns a lot from tourism. Island population approximately 63,000, with a work population of roughly 32,000. The largest employer on the island is the finance sector, employing around 21% of the workforce. It is a haven for the rich with a low tax regime, virtually no corporation tax, and Guernsey levies no capital gains, inheritance, capital transfer, value added (VAT / TVA) or general withholding taxes. Conditions that make it a desirable abode for the rich to plant their loot and a home for such business giants as Specsavers Optical Group, and Healthspan, among others. A bubbly, champagne fizzy place for the rich. However, like all surfaces in capitalism, scratch the surface and you see just how thin that bubbly surface goes.
Unemployment in numbers seems low, but remember the workforce is only around 32,000, recent figures put it at 411, an increase of 15% on the previous year, but up 46% since 2011. The islands chief medical officer Dr. Stephen Bridgman stated, between 5,000 and 10,000 islanders currently live in relative poverty. He said many had restricted access to health services because they simply could not afford it. The recent released Parry Report into Children’s Social Care in the Island, stated that child care was inadequate, and there was a lack of social mobility and a highly visible poorer population.
So there you have it, a “rich island”, a bubble created to cater to the rich, lots of fancy restaurants, expensive houses, and luxury yachts in the harbours, flourishing on the back of inadequate child care and the poor. Ah the wonders of capitalism.
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