Consumer Tips
08 July 2024

Advice for learner drivers

Do you, or someone you know, currently have a provisional Jersey driving license? We’ve recently been contacted by a local consumer asking us to investigate why they are only valid for six months. They thought this seemed like too short window in which to take a test before you have renew it – particularly given that a large proportion of those taking tests are teenagers who are still in education and doing exams, so fitting driving lessons in and getting a test done within just six months could prove difficult. We carried out a comparison with other jurisdictions and found the following: Jurisdiction     Fee        Valid for IOM                    £14       1 year – can have 2 licenses then discretionary Guernsey           £45       10 years – two years to take your test Jersey                £30        6 months – renewal discretionary UK                     £34       10 years - two years to take your test As the provisional license system is a parish issue, we asked Mike Jackson, the Chairman of Comité des Connétables – who set the guidelines for provisional driving licenses – why Jersey has such a short window. Here’s what he said: “Thank you for your enquiry asking why the Jersey provisional licence is only valid for six months as other jurisdictions, for example Guernsey, the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom, granted a provisional licence for a longer period. We note the short length has been queried as your received comment that many learner drivers are teenagers still in education and fitting lessons and a test around examinations is “sometimes difficult”. Article 11 of the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law 1956 permits a provisional licence to be granted “to learn to drive a motor vehicle with a view to passing a test”. The tests assess a person’s competence to drive and are important for the road safety of all road users, both vehicular and pedestrian. A provisional licence may be renewed though Article 11 provides that it may be refused if it appears to the parochial authority that the applicant does not intend to submit to the test within a reasonable time. The tests comprised - Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) for motorbikes and mopeds (valid indefinitely) Theory test including hazard perception – category specific (pass certificate valid indefinitely but invalid if the holder was disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence to drive) Practical driving test – category specific (pass certificate enabled the holder for a period of 5 years from the date of issue to obtain a licence) The Comité understands that there is adequate availability for booking and sitting a test and that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Department now has three dedicated officers to assess practical driving. The current timescales and fees for test bookings are: 3 to 4 weeks for CBT (fee of £153); 3 weeks for a theory test (fee £39.50) and 4 to 6 weeks for a practical test (fee £58.50). As there appears to be adequate availability to enable a provisional licence holder to take a relevant test (or, indeed, all tests for the category) within the validity period of the provisional licence, the Comité considers the six-month validity period is appropriate. A person should apply for a provisional licence at a time when they are able to learn to drive and study for the tests rather than as soon as they reach the age to drive.”   Our advice We advise learner drivers and parents of children coming up to 17 years of age, to think carefully before rushing to apply for a provisional license as soon as their 17th birthday arrives. If your child has a birthday early on in the school year, perhaps wait until nearer the school holidays to give them the best chance to fit in their driving lessons alongside school and studies, and not have to apply for a license renewal. Shop around for your driving lessons and insurance. With driving lessons averaging at around £42 to £45 per lesson, and insurance costs continuing to rise, it’s good to give this some thought before committing to it all too early.
Consumer Tips
08 July 2024

Changes to driving licence requirements in Jersey

Are you aware of the coming changes to driving licence requirements in Jersey? From 5 October, the requirements and standards for driving licences will change. The changes will be: two licence groups medical requirements and submition of medical certificates depending on the licence group and catagory the licence validity period depending on the licence group your parish will be be able to ask you to take a practical driving assessment and put conditions on your driving licence These changes will bring the Jersey standards and requirements for driving licences similar to the UK and the EU. Most standard drivers will fall into Group 1 and for this group there is little change; a medical certificate will only be required if a relevant condition is declared to your Parish. Vision standards have been enhanced for both Group 1 and 2 categories to include peripheral vision and an updated acuity test. Diabetes, epilepsy, and seizure standards have also been updated which will now allow more people to hold a Group 2 category licence. Those who passed their driving test in or before 1997 may have categories C1 or D1 on their licences which, following the change, will mean that they are holders of a Group 2 licence. If they do not need their Group 2 categories, they can relinquish them, and have five years in which to have them reinstated, if desired. Group 2 licences will be required to have two more medicals in their lifetime. Currently Group 2 licence holders have medicals at 45, 55 and 65 years of age, following the changes they will also need a medical at 50 and 60. If a driver has any concerns with health issues which may affect their driving, then they should consult their GP. To find out more about the changes and what they will mean for you, visit the DVS information page on Gov.je:  Medical standards for driving licences (gov.je)
Consumer Tips
17 June 2024

Jersey Consumer Council seeking new Council Members and other volunteers

Are you passionate about consumer affairs in Jersey? If so, the Jersey Consumer Council is expanding its membership and is looking for Islanders of all ages to join its successful, driven and friendly team, to help improve the lives of consumers in the Island. From price checking and researching products to feeding back on new Government policy and helping consumers with everyday issues, the roles is as varied as it is rewarding.  We’re hoping to attract applications to join our team of volunteer Council Members from Islanders with a variety of skills, including secretarial, digital, administrative, and social media, among others. Applications are being accepted from people of all ages who reside in Jersey, and we’re especially keen to welcome applications from any Islanders in their 20s and 30s, which is an area currently under-represented on the Council. In addition to searching for new Council Members, we’re also looking to recruit a team of separate volunteers who will help, when required, with research, data gathering and special projects – effectively acting as the eyes and ears of the Council. Ideally applicants should be living in Jersey, so that they have some knowledge about consumer issues on the island.  What you need to do To apply to either join our Council, or our new team of volunteers, please include a covering letter – indicating whether you wish to join the Council or our new team of separate volunteers, or whether you’d consider either role – explaining a little about yourself and why you wish to join the Jersey Consumer Council. Please also include a brief CV, and answers to the following questions: Why do you want to join/volunteer on behalf of the Jersey Consumer Council? What are the three biggest issues facing consumers today? Choose one of the above and briefly explain how you would help tackle this? Do you have an example of when you have challenged a retailer or service provider, either on your own or someone else’s behalf, and what was the outcome? Approximately how many hours a month do you think you may be able to commit to helping the Consumer Council? Are there any other skills you have which you think will be of benefit to the role, to the Council or to Consumers in Jersey? Please submit your application to contact@consumercouncil.je
At Home
Living Costs
Money
10 June 2024

Investigation into higher mortgage rates in Jersey: report published

We've published the Findings Report of our three-month investigation into higher mortgage rates in Jersey. Jersey's mortgage rates have been consistently higher than those in the UK, sparking concern among consumers and prompting our investigation. At the time of launching our investigation in March 2024, a number of banks were offering local rates at more than 1% higher than the UK equivalent. The gap has closed at the time of writing this report, although can change with very little notice. That said, even the smallest increase in mortgage rates have a significant impact on the total amount repaid, due to the size of the loan and the length of time it takes to be paid off. Following correspondence from a number of Islanders, and a call for more transparency over mortgage rates from the property conveyancing sector, the Jersey Consumer Council sent an open letter on behalf of consumers in Jersey to the six main mortgage lenders in Jersey during March 2024. They were: Royal Bank of Scotland International Barclays Skipton Santander HSBC Lloyds We then conducted a broad investigation into the reasons behind mortgage rates in Jersey being higher than those offered by the same branded banks in the UK. We found this leads to confusion for consumers, who, along with already paying significantly higher prices for property compared to many parts of the UK, struggle to understand why they are being asked to pay up to £20,000 more per £100,000 of loan over the lifetime of a mortgage when borrowing over 25 years. The banks attribute this difference to their status as ring-fenced and separate entities from their UK counterparts. Despite this separation, many of these banks still align with their UK outfit in terms of branding, marketing material, contact details and, most significantly, the offer of Jersey-based mortgage products which track the Bank of England’s base rate, and rates generally which fluctuate with the Bank of England interest rates. The Consumer Council, however, has concluded that the elevated mortgage rates are further influenced by the higher savings rates offered in Jersey, which are designed to attract both local and inward investment. The Council's findings highlight the need for greater transparency from the banking industry to help consumers better understand the differences, and a reassessment by the Government of Jersey on the balance between attracting inward investment and ensuring affordable home ownership for Islanders. Click here to read our report.
At Home
Money
21 May 2024

Funeral costs rise

Funeral costs are often the last thing we’d like to think about, but when the death of a loved one comes along having some idea about what’s on offer and the costs to be occurred makes it easier at such a sad time. According to SunLife's 2024 Cost of Dying report, seven in 10 people in the UK make provisions before they die, but only 54% have got the whole amount covered. SunLife say that on average a basic funeral in the UK cost around £4,141 in 2023 and £3,953 in 2022 (a 4.7% increase), but this can vary depending on where you live. So as much as this is not a conversation we want to have, it’s good to have these discussions with your loved ones. Here’s our breakdown of funeral costs in Jersey for 2024 compared with what they were in 2022. Service/Product De Gruchy’s                  (Co-op)2022 Maillards (Independent)2022 Pitcher & Le Quesne (Dignity)2022 Professional Fees £1,250 £1,335 £0 Funeral Director fee above professional fees £0 £0 £1,590 Care of deceased (bringing into care and treatment 24/7) £490 £380 £295 Provision of hearse, driver and bearers £750 £716 £600 Provision of one limousine £200 £194 £195 Attendance of Funeral Director at burial of ashes £75 £90 £0 Total cost of above £2,765 £2,715 £2,680 (£2,165 in 2017) (£2,256 in 2017) (£3,863 in 2017) Direct/’no frills’ cremation * £1,795.35 £2,040.35 £1,700 Embalming (if requested) £185 £200 £155 Coffin – cheapest wood effect £595 £650 £495 Coffin – cheapest eco-friendly coffin (rattan, sea-grass or wicker) £785 £750 £845 Ashes urn – cheapest hardwood £120 £120 £115   Service/Product De Gruchy’s                  (Co-op)2024 Maillards (Independent)2024 Pitcher & Le Quesne (Dignity)2024 Professional Fees £1,450 £1,565 £2,015 Funeral Director fee above professional fees £0 £0 £0 Care of deceased (bringing into care and treatment 24/7) £500 £380 £320 Provision of hearse, driver and bearers £790 £790 £650 Provision of one limousine £200 £194 £210 Attendance of Funeral Director at burial of ashes £95 £90 £135 Total cost of above £3,035 £3,019 £3,330 Direct/’no frills’ cremation * £2,750.52 £2,995.00 £1,875 Embalming (if requested) £210 £200 £175 Coffin – cheapest wood effect £675 £795 £495 Coffin – cheapest eco-friendly coffin (rattan, sea-grass or wicker) £810 £900 £1,005 Ashes urn – cheapest hardwood £120 £120 £120 Additional costs Minister /Priest/ Celebrant fee  £300 Minister/Priest/ Celebrant fee Attendance at burial of ashes   £75.00 Church verger   £65.00 Church fee (if not a parish church)   £220.00 Organist   £110.00 Soloist Varies - prices will vary Flowers - prices will vary Service sheets - prices will vary Paper notices - prices will vary Crematorium   £828.00 Cremation certificate (if required)  £10.51 Doctor's cremation forms   £200 Death certificate x 1   £32.31 Prices correct as at Apr/May 2024. Some prices may include different services and products To make the process easier for bereaved families, much of the organisation can be arranged and paid for by the Funeral Directors, who include them in the final invoice. The companies sometimes work with each other when the need arises, to ensure the experience is as painless as possible. They are willing to work with families to find the best option that will suit their needs and budget. They can advise on where you could cut costs and if requested will provide an estimate of costs before you agree to go ahead. Should you be eligible, they can advise on the Government’s Death Grant payment, which is currently £1,063.72.  Government can help those on low incomes with financial support to help with funeral costs. You can find out more about this on gov.je/ benefits/deathbereavement. 
Health
20 May 2024

GP fees go down by £10

Government have announced that from Monday 20 May they are giving another £10 towards every GP appointment.  This reduction applies to all face-to-face appointments, surgery consultations and home visits, meaning that Islanders are now receiving an overall subsidy of £50.28 towards their GP appointments.  Last year we did some research into the costs of GP's and it was really shocking to see the difference in prices from one surgery to the next.  Here's what we found last year: A review of GP fees (consumercouncil.je) We'll be keeping a regular eye on the cost of healthcare prices and letting you know of our findings.