Energy & Fuel
Living Costs
Money
27 April 2022

Jersey’s Government rejects calls for consumer help

Jersey’s Chief Minister has rejected a call from the Jersey Consumer Council to help Islanders through the current cost of living emergency.  The JCC took the unusual step to write to Senator John Le Fondré on 18 March, to ask him and his Government ministers to consider a package of measures which could help ease the financial pressures being put on consumers following a combination of Brexit, the economic recovery from Covid and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.   Combined, the three price rise drivers have resulted in record fuel prices, rocketing food prices and unprecedented energy price increases.   The five key measures the Council requested for a three month period were:    A reduction in fuel duty by 9p a litre  A £100 credit made available to each household to put towards their energy winter bill  Free bus journeys and free parking into town on Saturdays  A commitment to not introducing a reduction in the online shopping threshold before 2023  The establishment of a panel of Islanders and business leaders who could suggest further assistant measures    Below is the Chief Minister’s full letter dated 13 April 2022    Dear Carl,  Thank you for your letter, dated Friday, 18 March, relaying the suggestions of the Jersey Consumer Council (JCC). I apologise for the significant delay in replying to you.  The Government of Jersey is fully aware of the inflationary pressures facing all Islanders and has implemented support measures which were announced at the last States sitting by the Social Security Minister. Any measures adopted by the Government need to be targeted to achieve the maximum assistance to those most vulnerable to the effects of inflation.  The current inflationary pressure has largely arisen as a result of global factors that are beyond Jersey's control. However, in addition to the measures already taken, Ministers continue to consider further practical initiatives that can be taken where appropriate in the short and medium term to alleviate the impact of inflationary pressures will have on Islanders. These will be ready for presentation to the next Council of Ministers following the elections in June.   I have set out below detailed responses to each of the suggestions raised by the Consumer Council.     Reduce the duty on motor fuel by 9p per litre at the till  Whilst on a cursory basis this might appear attractive there are a number of concerns over this suggestion.  Reducing fuel duty is not an effective means of delivering help to Islanders. It does not benefit all households equally. Average mileage and fuel consumption in Jersey is significantly lower than in the UK. In addition, households on lower incomes - who have lower rates of car ownership - make up only a small percentage of motor fuel spending. A reduction in fuel duty would therefore disproportionately benefit those households with higher incomes and more vehicles, with some of those least well off receiving no benefit at all.  The Jersey Consumer Council's PriceComparison.je website on 21 March showed the cheapest litre of unleaded petrol in Jersey was 149.9p (in St Saviour) while the most expensive was 167.9p (in St Helier) - a difference of 18 pence. For diesel, the cheapest litre is to be had in St Helier at 153.0p in St Helier and the most expensive litre can also be had in St Helier for 173.9p - a difference of 20.9 pence, which is far greater than the reduction of 9p per litre which is proposed by the JCC. Islanders therefore already have the ability to achieve far greater savings than a reduction of 9p would achieve by being selective in where they purchase their motor fuel.  It should also be remembered that the States Assembly has declared a Climate Emergency and that we should be doing everything possible to encourage the use of public transport and other more climate friendly modes of transport at this time, many of which offer better value to islanders. The component of fuel duty hypothecated to the Climate Emergency Fund is essential in delivering on the commitments identified in the Carbon Neutral Roadmap that is due to go before the States in April.  A 9-pence reduction in fuel duty would reduce Government income by a little over £4 million per annum. The Carbon Neutral Roadmap proposes a suite of policies that seek to reduce Jersey's reliance on fossil fuels over the long term for reasons of sustainability (carbon reduction) but also to increase the affordability and security of our energy supplies. By reducing resources to deliver these policies, Jersey will remain exposed for longer to energy market supply issues and the geopolitical tensions associated with fossil fuel production that we are seeing causing the current market volatility and associated impacts.  Finally, in relation to a reduction in fuel duty it would also be important to have some degree of confidence that such a reduction would be passed on in full to consumers and I note that this concern is also being expressed in the United Kingdom.     Make £100 credit available for every household to spend on their chosen energy bill  It is important that any measures agreed by Ministers provides support in a way that is targeted to where it is most needed and can be of the most assistance. For this reason, a £100 credit to all households is not being actively considered. However Ministers have agreed a temporary scheme to support those most vulnerable. The Minister for Social Security has announced plans for monthly payments to support those most vulnerable in our community. This will take the form of a direct monthly payment of £20 to every adult or child in a household claiming Income Support and every pensioner claiming a means tested benefit.  This scheme will run from April to December 2022 and will benefit approximately 11,450 individuals. An eligible household of four will therefore receive £80 per month for nine months which is clearly more beneficial than a single payment of £100. Payments will be sent automatically - there will be no need for people to apply. These payments will also go to everyone receiving the Community Costs Bonus (CCB). Officers will also be exploring options for longer term support which will be considered by the new Council of Ministers following the election in June.     Commit to not reducing the online shopping threshold before 1 January  I can confirm that this is already the case and that the GST De Minimis Level will not be reduced (from £135 to £60) until mandatory registration of larger offshore retailers commences. As identified in the Law [Finance (2022 Budget) Law], which was approved by the States Assembly at the end of last year, the reduction in the GST De Minimis Level will not come into force until 1st January 2023.     Consider allowing free bus journeys to St Helier and/or three hours free parking on Saturdays  Whilst theoretically attractive, experience and evidence does suggest that these proposals can result in unintended consequences which would not achieve the desired outcome. Previous surveys indicate that Jersey consumers value the convenience of a location above the price of parking when choosing where to shop. Indeed, the percentage of respondents who considered the price of parking to be a factor was less than 10%.  It should be recognised that free parking could therefore work contrary to its intended result. As it removes the price incentive to walk, cycle or use the bus for town workers, this could generate additional demand for parking spaces making it harder to find a parking space which in turn may put people off shopping in the town.  Regarding free bus journeys, the most recent Household Spending survey found that bus fares averaged less than 0.2% of total expenditure - and that actually it was higher earners that spend more on public transport than lower earners.   Consider establishing an independent anti-inflation panel  The Government has reconstituted the Inflation Strategy Group to monitor changes and recommend any steps the Government can take to assist Islanders. This group has already met and is supported by the Chief Economic Advisor and Chief Statistician, and other specialist officers.  Current forecasts are for further changes in inflation over the course of the next year and the Government will aim to target any supportive measures to assist Islanders who are most vulnerable That is why we have put in place more than £2 million worth of assistance for those most affected by the current inflationary pressures, and which are taking affect during the course of this month.   I hope the above clearly addresses each of the points raised by the Consumer Council in your letter and provides the Council with confidence that the Government of Jersey is taking this matter seriously.   Yours sincerely  Senator John Le Fondré  Chief Minister    Consumer Council Chairman Carl Walker responded by saying: "We are very disappointed with the response from the Chief Minister and his team, and it is clear that the Government of Jersey believes it is already doing enough to help Islanders through these extremely difficult times.  "The Council has tried its best to prompt the Government to act beyond the £4.62 a week it has promised to those already on benefits, and will now concentrate on developing other work streams which may help consumers cope with this cost of living emergency.”    Islanders are welcome to share their thoughts on the JCC’s social media accounts or by emailing contact@consumercouncil.je  
At Home
Living Costs
22 April 2022

Netflix monthly subscription costs increasing this month

In January 2021, we advised you that Netflix was increasing its subscription prices. Well, just over a year later, they are increasing again. It may not be a surprise that the company recently announced that, for the first time, thousands of people in the UK have unsubscribed. The possible cause of this could be the current cost of living emergency, as people take a closer look at their financial situation and find ways to reduce their outgoing payments.    Now’s the time to check what plan you have and whether you actually need it. The monthly costs are increasing as set out below: Basic plan £6.99 p/m (£83.88 per year) - increased from £5.99 (no increase in 2021) Standard plan £10.99 p/m (131.88 per year) - increased from £9.99 (a £2 p/m or 23% increase in 15 months) Premium plan £15.99 (£191.88 per year) - increased from £13.99 (a £4 p/m or 34% increase in 15 months)   The higher the cost the more options available to you e.g. more screens can view at the same time and HD or ultra HD. By switching your plan you could save up to £108 this year. It’s easy to change, simply: Log in to your Netflix account and go to ‘Plan Details’. In the ‘Change plan’ option, select the plan you want. Click ‘Continue’ and ‘Confirm’ Your plan will be changed immediately but we suggest you do this as close to the next billing date as possible because you won’t get any money back – you’ll simply pay less the next time you’re billed.
Consumer Tips
Energy & Fuel
Money
30 March 2022

Fuel Saving Tips

Fuel Saving Tips With forecourt fuel prices going through reaching record highs, we’ve put together some tips on how to reduce your fuel consumption and get the best available price. Since the Council started collecting forecourt prices around 15 years ago, the highest recorded prices were in 2012/2013 when they reached just over £1.20 per litre for unleaded petrol. The latest prices, published on 29 March 2022, are eye-watering with the prices ranging from:Unleaded £1.519 - £1.749 plDiesel       £1.550 - £1.819 pl Now, more than ever, it’s essential that we drive as efficiently as possible to get the most miles from as little fuel as possible. Your car manual will possibly have some suggestions on how to get the best out of your specific make and model but here are some more general tips. Get the best price Find the forecourt closest to your house, work, or on your route, that is selling at the best price by using our pricecomparison.je website or free downloadable app. Most forecourts with the same branding sell at the same price, but not all. Just because you can get one price in St Martin does not mean it will be the same in St Ouen. Sign up for one of the free loyalty schemes offered by the suppliers, as you will often benefit from discounts, or accumulate cash for use at a later date. The places offering these will be shown on our price comparison site very soon. Drive wisely Avoid stopping and starting, if possible. Gently roll up to the red traffic light or yellow line. Lower your speed and drive in the highest gear for that speed (within the speed limit).Accelerate away slowly and, when driving try to maintain your speed and keep the revs between 1,500 - 2,500 rpm (petrol) and 1,200 - 2,000 rpm (diesel). Brake gently too, rather than leaving it late and wasting energy (unless an emergency stop is required). Keep in gear when braking as this uses very little fuel. Keep the number of times you change gear to a minimum. Many new cars have gear change indication on the dashboard which shows the most economical gear to be driving in at any one time. With all our hills, its’ good to know that when coming to one accelerate a little ahead of time and ease off as you drive up, which will minimise fuel consumption. Our Island speed limits range from 15 to 40 mph. According to the RAC, when driving in the UK driving between 50 to 60 mph is the best for fuel efficiency. The faster you drive the more fuel you use. Cruise control can be used in the UK or Europe but is no real benefit on our roads. Maintain and tidy your car Check your tyre pressure to reduce drag and effort on your engine. The correct pressure for your vehicle will be stated in the car manual. Check the oil levels and get it serviced regularly. It’s a good time to clear out anything in the boot that you don’t need for every journey. Any extra weight uses more fuel. Take off the roof rack, roof box or cycle rack, as these create drag and add weight. It’s great to support your football team but those patriotic flags, stuck on the window or aerial, will cost you. Don’t warm up the car Modern day cars don’t need to be warmed up before driving which means you’re not wasting fuel. Keep air con to a minimum If the window is iced over, use a scraper to clear it rather than cranking up the heater to warm up the window. In the summer, open the window and let that fresh air in, although this does increase drag. When you do need to use the heater or cooler, keep it to a minimum as it is one of the biggest uses of fuel. Plan your journey If you’re unsure where you’re going it’s worth using a satnav to get you there using the quickest route. Most newer models will redirect you to avoid traffic jams or roadworks so you don’t waste time and fuel in a traffic jam. Make your journey as efficient as possible by planning your stops so you don’t have to go back on yourself. Car share and buses Reduce the time you use your car by car-sharing or using the bus service.  
Consumer Tips
Energy & Fuel
Money
02 December 2021

Energy Saving Tips – Electricity and Gas

Energy Saving Tips – Electricity and Gas With gas prices surging and electricity prices due to increase by 4% in January 2022, many customers are going to struggle to keep themselves warm and pay bills over the winter and spring period. With the help of Jersey Electricity and Jersey Gas, we’ve compiled a long list of energy-saving tips which may help counteract some of the increased costs of running your home. Heating Turn your room thermostat down by 1 degree Check the times the heating comes on and adjust accordingly Bleed radiators to prevent cold spots Close your curtains and blinds at night Use draft excluders – make you own with filled plastic bags or tights Put draft-proofing strips around window and door frames Use a chimney draft excluder when not in use – remove before lighting a fire Use blankets and layers of clothes to keep warm Hot Water Turn your immersion cylinder to 60 degrees Take a quick shower instead of a bath (uses 5 times less water) Use a washing up bowl rather than leaving the hot tap running Electricity Turn lights off when you are not in the room Don’t leave appliances on standby – turn off at plug Unplug phones, tablets and laptops once fully charged Use a kettle to boil the amount of water needed for cooking or hot drinks Change lightbulbs to energy saving LED ones Fill washing machines and dishwashers to capacity Limit use of tumble dryer by putting clothes on washing line or leaving to air Dust down fridges and radiators for best efficiency and heat flow Cooking Cook several items at the same time (a set of steamer pans uses less water) Use a microwave when possible Cover your pots and pans to reduce steam and use less energy Freeze spare or bulk cooked food (once cooled down) Consider turning your stove/hob off a couple of minutes before food is fully cooked as the heat from the pan will continue to cook your food Options which cost money but will help Insulate your loft Lag your hot water cylinder Only purchase energy efficient appliances (A++, A+, A) Consider replacing old boilers with a more energy efficient one Consider buying a smart heating control which put you in control of heating Help with Bills If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, please contact the relevant company’s support lines (see below) who may be able to offer a flexible payment plan to help you. Jersey Electricity The JEC have a free downloadable app called ‘My JE’ which can be found via the App Store or Google Play (more information on this was in our summer 2021 newsletter. They are also able to send someone to your home to check any appliances that may be using a high amount of electricity and suggest ways to reduce your bill. Their contact details are:Telephone: 01534 505460Email: jec@jec.co.uk Jersey Gas Ask Jersey Gas for a Comfort Visit, to make sure your heating system is well-maintained and running efficiently. Their contact details are:Telephone: 01534 755500Contact form: https://www.jsygas.com/contact/ Helpful Links Here are some links from Jersey Electricity, Jersey Gas and the Energy Savings Trust that you may find helpful: https://www.jec.co.uk/your-home/help-advice/saving-energy/saving-energy-in-your-home https://www.jec.co.uk/your-home/help-advice/bills-payments/reducing-your-bill/ https://www.jsygas.com/online-services/calculate-bill.php
Scams
12 May 2022

Gaming Scams

Have you got two-step authentication switched on?  Many children and adults play online games using the Steam* platform, often messaging each other via the Discord** service.   As with any online platform, these are at risk of fraud and we’ve recently been made aware of a 14 year old gamer becoming the victim of a scam.  A scammer pretending to be an official administrator of Steam contacted the gamer saying the user’s account had been reported for fraudulent transactions and they were going to block it.  In order to ‘protect’ and ‘validate’ the account, the victim was instructed to by a £100 gift card. Being unfamiliar and naïve of scammers, the young gamer was worried that all gaming history and contacts would be lost, if they did not act quickly and pay the money. Using a GoHenry account, the victim paid the amount.  The scammers then took their request to the next level and asked for the gamer’s passport details. Thankfully, the young victim asked his parent where his passport was and explained why he needed it.   The parent read the threatening Discord messages and realised it was a scam, which the victim refused to believe and was more concerned that the account would be blocked. They contacted a known local gaming contact who was very helpful and explained to the victim that it was a scam and to immediately stop all communication with the scammer.  The Steam account had been compromised, as the scammer had changed the user’s password. The parent contacted Steam who were able to retrieve the account.  Due to a limit on the GoHenry account, this victim’s financial losses were limited to £100 but it has scared them and they no longer feel safe online.  Activating the two-step verification process will reduce the risk of accounts being hacked.    * Steam is an online platform where gamers can buy, play, create, and discuss PC games. The platform hosts thousands of games from both major developers and indie game designers.  ** Discord is a free voice, video, and text chat app that's used by millions of people ages 13+ to contact their gaming communities and friends. 
Scams
04 April 2022

Scam Warning - 'Jersey Tower Capital Bank'

The Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) has issued a warning about 'Jersey Tower Capital Bank' an unauthorised scam investment company claiming to trade out of Jersey. Please do not interact with this fraudulent company, but if you have had any dealings with it please let the JFSC know. They can be called on 01534 822000 or have a contact form on their website. For more information, please read the articles on their web page.