Savings to be made as Housing asks for £2m. less in funding

HOUSING is saving the States £2m. a year by reducing the amount of funding it needs for property maintenance and new housing projects.

Stephen Langford

HOUSING is saving the States £2m. a year by reducing the amount of funding it needs for property maintenance and new housing projects.

The department has committed to taking the significant cut in its annual corporate housing programme funding – a reduction from £8m. to £6m.

This will be transferred and used to meet the States’ cost-cutting FTP saving targets.

Housing chief officer Stephen Langford said that a decade of investment in property maintenance meant they would not need to spend as much in the coming years.

Mr Langford, pictured, said the department’s predicted spending on upcoming building projects was also a factor as it came to the decision it could manage with £6m. instead of £8m. over the next five to 10 years.

Comments for: "Savings to be made as Housing asks for £2m. less in funding"

Dani

Reading the article in the paper there is no clear mention of the consultant that will be paid £3.8 million (if FTP targets are achieved within the 5 year time frame) and if they have actually been used to achieve these savings.

Can anyone state whether or not they were used in assissting this department with the reduction in the budget?

Dave Jones

Dani

This will not be part of any payment to the consultants as it is money forgone rather than money trawled back through savings.

We believe as grant funding falls to the GHA and our major refurbishment of existing states housing comes to an end, that we can continue with the Corperate Housing Programme with slightly less money. We will still have six million per year which is still a tidy sum and we have a very healthy balance in the Corperate Housing Fund, which will be more than adequate over the next decade or so to deliver the levels of social housing needed, providing we can find the land to build on.

The two million forgone can therfor be used by other departments who don't have income streams which of course housing does.

Zab

No homes at Housing or GHA today or for sale at affordable prices for for thousands of islanders. That is the situation Housing must shoulder their share of the blame, that situation has not changed in years.

Island Wide Voting

Well done Stephen Langford ( and Deputy Jones)

There are several other highly rated and highly paid Chief Officers who now need to get their arses in gear and step up to the plate,namely :-

Jason Moriarty

Dave Chilton

Jon Buckland

Steve Smith

Mark Cooke

Paul Whitfield

Mike Brown

Adrian Lewis

Malcolm Nutley

Simon Elliott

Very much looking forward to hearing from you in the very near future

Zab

Two observations,

firstly what a fine collection of Norman Surnames.

Secondly from previous posts IWV aka Ray appears to be an under occuping baby boomer home owner, the islands dispossed and struggling, inadequately housed in a more precarious financial position may not share the vista from his Ivory tower.

GM

Zab

There is no place whatsoever these days for xenophobia.

Zab

GM

I was waiting for a similar comment, a quick look at the local telephone directory will reveal 30 t0 33% Norman surnames, am I not entitled to point out that there appears to be some sort of Institutional discrimination at play? Frankly am I expected to accept that Guernsey folk are less able? Before you accuse me of Xenophobia possibly you will enlighten us wether in this particular instance you belong to the discriminators or those discriminated against.

GM

Zab

Just because somebody does not have a Norman name does not mean that they are not local. I was born here, my mother's family originated from Brittany and came here about 500 years or so ago and my father's family came here from the UK in around 1750. I have an English surname. Am I not "local" just because I don't have a Norman (or Breton) surname? Should that rule me out of holding a senior post in government on the island?

Its a free world - you can say what you like (within reason), but don't expect to get away with making stupid comments like that without a few firm responses.

Neil Forman

Zab

I believe my name originated in Ireland. My father is a born and bred Guern. My mother was born in Birmingham. I was born in Guernsey and married a Guernsey woman whos parents were both born and bred here, she did not have a Norman name and i am proud to call myself a Guern.

GM

IWV/Ray

Hear hear - well done Steve Langford and Dave Jones.

I think several of those names are already making progress, so they don't all deserve to be tarred with the same brush. I think you'll find that Dave Chilton has recently retired.

Neil Forman

Ray

Agree.

Well done Stephen Langford and Dave Jones ( again ).

Zab

Perhaps Mr Langford could explain how having failed over the past 5 years to provide the 300 pa new homes needed, how £2 million a year less will help achive the 421 pa homes needed in the next five?

When will someone be held responsible for the dire housing situation on the island?

Utter tosh!

Island Wide Voting

Zab

I'm not sure that it was Mr Langford's responsibility to provide the 300 new homes each year

Surely that is the figure which was meant to be provided by the local building trade in general and for some reason they tend to concentrate in the main on the higher end of the housing market newbuilds

If you look up the Homefinder website you will find over 1200 properties for sale with a very wide price range

Dave Jones

Zab

There you go again, the 300 homes you refer too are across all tenurs, not just social housing. There are lots of permissions given for new homes but some land owners have chosen not to press ahead with them at this time. Also there are any number of estate agents windows crammed full of homes for sale, the private rental market has also grown over the last few years.

Of course everybody would like to have their own home rather than share, whether it is rental or ownership but it is not the Housing departments job to supply every single one of the homes required across the island, our job is to make sure that people have access to all sections of the housing market, to suit wherever possible what they can afford.

You clearly have a continuing beef with the Housing Department, I suspect you have been refused a licence to live in Guernsey from one of the smaller islands, or you are not eligible for our waiting lists.

Peter

@Dave Jones

Thanks for posting comments on here you seem to be one of the few deputies willing to use electronic methods of interacting with islanders.

I think you are right to say that estate agents windows are crammed full of houses for sale, but in my view that is generally because they are overvalued due to expectations of homeowners/estate agents.

That may be okay in times of easy credit but for a household to buy an "average house" at 5 times multiple would require earnings of £90k per year plus having been able to save for the ludicrous advocates fees and the all important deposit.

Empty properties or land that has planning permission but is not being developed should result in a financial penalty for the owner.

There are a significant number of empty properties on the island and owners should be encouraged to return these to use sooner rather than later.

I believe the SoG should get involved where the private sector can't or won't build additional private housing/apartments required.

Or perhaps SoG are waiting for Finance to shrink and the problem will partly go away?

*Disclaimer - My family and I are in private rented accomodation as we are not in a position at present to fund the deposit/advocates fees required to buy a property.

Zab

Dave Jones

quote: "Our job is to make sure thet people have access to all sections of the housing market to suit wherever possible what they CAN AFFORD." Epic fail there then.

No I do not need a licence I am one of those islanders making your life difficult by not leaving fast enough.

Here I go again, some months ago I stated that Housing wanted poor people to cull their pets, you dismissed that a rubbish. However what did I see in todays GEP?

Dave Jones

Zab

Because we obviously haven't been able to solve your individual housing problem does not mean that the department has failed.

Also we have not asked tenants to "cull" their pets and any suggestion that we do is of course complete rubbish. We do have policies on tenants keeping pets and we observe them where necessary in the interests of all tenants.

The report in today's press is a case I won't comment on and I will leave it to others to decide on the truth of the matter.

ruby the dog

Does that mean all poor people so all pets in states houses will have to go.Housing do what they like.

Island Wide Voting

Ruby

Please don't get yourself all upset by this.There are some good people at Housing and I don't think it means that at all

I think it just means that if you fall behind with the rent then your pet is toast

Guern abroad

I suspect it means that if you are provided housing that there are terms/regulations that you signed up to.

If you break those terms then there may be consequences.

Dave Jones

Zab

You do strike me as someone who expects everything to be handed to them on a plate, there are lots of hardworking people in Guernsey who just get on with it, thousands who make provision for themselves and their families. Our job is to try and pick up those families and older people who cannot get access to private housing.

Affordable housing has always been a problem, I cannot remember a time when renting or buying was particularly easy for those on low incomes and the States has done a lot to help ease the situation.

Despite your comments, We have done an awful lot at Housing over the last few years to improve the condition of social housing and to provide increasing numbers available, we still have a long way to go and my department will continue to do everything we can to expand the number of social rental and partial ownership homes available to those who need it.

We are also addressing special needs housing and extra care housing for those who are suitable to take up these options.

guern

Does that mean my Blind Son wil not be able to have a new back path as he can not use the back garden he can only use the front which goes right onto the main road.So its the only way for him to go out, the housing do not care about Blind people they always say it will cost money yet they do it for others.Housing??

guern

Dave Jones No Comment.??? I forgot you do not deal with tenants you get some one from the housing to deal with it and you get paid for it.

Dave Jones

Guern

I am happy that the issue you raised was dealt with properly by Housing staff

guern

Dave Jones. Like i said you do not like to talk to states house tenants .The issue was not dealt properly just past to one side.

Scarlett

Dave. Purely as a matter of interest, if the proposed target number of new homes being built was actually achieved each year, every year, where would the land continue to come from, ad infinitum, once we've covered all available space, i.e., urban, country, brown field and green field areas entirely (as would surely happen, eventually)...?

I ask because whenever these targets, which I am concerned to say are quite probably accurate, are stated, there seems to be no consideration of the fact that we are a very limited landmass, or of the other things this would effect, such as infrastructure, roads, etc, and of course, whether this will make the island into the sort of place that anyone would actually want to live in - or even recognise - any more.

I appreciate your views on most things and I would on this, as I simply can't see how this view can continue to work for us. Thank you.

Dave Jones

Scarlett

There are still several brown field sites in states ownership that could be freed up, the Cstlel Hospital is a large site that springs to mind.

The search for suitable sites I'd going on as we speak with Housing and Enviroment having joint meetings to see what can be done. There are also the Housing target areas that can be brought into use and as I have said previously some of this additional new housing will be built by the private sector. We do have as you say a very limited land mass which is why we need to look at all sites owned by the States to see if they could be better used for housing. I don't have all the answers yet but I am determind to keep the CHP on track and these problems are there to be solved.

Of course the other side of this coin is much stricter controls on population which the new permit system will allow us to have, which I am also working on with others.

Island Wide Voting

Scarlett

Local builders appear to have got into the habit of buying up detached properties with a bit of garden and whipping up 2,3 or even 4 rabbit hutches in their place,all at 350K-400K plus

Good for land conservation I suppose but certainly not for comfortable living space for an expanding family

A.J.

I agree with Scarlett.If these figures were achieved would we really want to live here? I must confess, even as a True Guern ,these thoughts do keep popping up.But ,it can still be a paradise for the well off.

Dave Jones

Scarlett

I meant to add that we still have to cater for Guernsey people who wish to return to their Island home as life gets more difficult elsewhere, that is another challenge that my department is faced with and we will have to find a balance between these competing issues and the over development of the island.

Guern abroad

Glad to read that all aspects are being looked at as a perpetual building approach is not sustainable.

Make renting attractive socially and affordable across both public and private sectors through means such as banding (this may help stifle the buy to let brigade who contribute to the problems).

Limit licences and push succession planning to replace license holders with already qualified individuals (as they are existing population) this would particularly be in the longer term license positions as this sector probably has the biggest impact on population growth.

Reinstate it is socially acceptable for families to share rooms growing up.

Kerb life style benefit choosers.

There are lots of prongs that could be used to tackle the housing issues many are directly linked to population control.

Sean McManus

Notwithstanding a few moans, this is clearly a genuinely good-news story from what arguably remains the States' most successful department.

It is also in marked contrast to the understandable complaints I've heard today from staff in two other departments about the real practical problems arising from the (mis)launch of the SAP scheme.

Dave Jones

Hallo Sean

Sean was a very hardworking and valued member of housing for four years, i was very sorry to loose him. He better than anybody knows the huge dilemma that faces us in this department every year. The demand grows and as private rental becomes more expensive, more families find themselves pushed towards social housing provision.

Which is why the States must try and help financially those struggling in the private rental sector. It is the cheaper option in the end, I can assure you as we will never build our way out of the problem.

Scarlett

thanks for your honest and comprehensive answer, Dave, it's a really tough one, I know, and on this issue, I do trust that you will take all factors into consideration.

It bothers me that we have the bizarre combo of small plots with slightly cheaper, 'too many' homes on them (as someone else stated here), alongside plots that once were occupied by one small home, now harbouring an enormous millionaire-esk steel/glass carbuncle of the most massive proportions which take up every very expensive square foot of it with barely room to swing a Porche.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems the rich and poor divide grows ever wider here, with the rich who can afford to live here, local or no (and who can blame 'em, really?) becoming more and more removed from the 'average Joe' very predominantly local populace, who increasingly, ironically, cannot.

It certainly will be interesting to see what the shrinkage of the finance industry and the inevitable reduction in States income, which will need to be shored up somehow to ensure the status quo, is retained to maintain out 'attractiveness' to the wealthy, and what that does to our small island in years to come.

Off to plant up some spuds an' toms just in case, Dave, and not envying your job one bit, I do appreciate it's a virtually impossible one!

Dave Jones

Scarlett

I agree with you ,the gap between the rich and the poor is widening and it is something we as a government have to address. I see couples and families every week who are both working long hours and still cannot make ends meet, they struggle with everything, utility bills, basic things like clothing their children properly and off island trips are simply out of the question for hundreds of families. My office at Housing dealers with hundreds of requests for help with cheaper housing and we do what we can.

My board is due to discuss shortly the idea of helping people with deposits to get on the Housing ladder, as it is the one thing that couples and families struggle most to raise. I would like much more cooperation from the banks and morgage providers to issue mortgages over a much longer period, it never made any sense to me that most people can only secure a 25 to 30 year morgage when they work for 50 years on average, can you imagine how much more affordable it would be spread over double the period?

We need to tackle the high cost of legal fees and do something about stamp duty in order to get the housing market moving again.

So we are not sitting on our hands at housing and we have a saying that says "any day without progress is a wasted day"

We are looking at different ideas all the time to see what we can do to help

I am not making any promises at this stage but it is something I am keen to persue.

kevin

Dave,

'The gap between rich and poor is widening and it is something the government have to address'

Going slightly off this topic, can you reassure me that the 100 or so high earning States employees will not receive their 'compensation' payments if the pension scheme is changed?

I bet you can't.

Dave Jones

Kevin

Of course I can do no such thing, the pension issue is a complex and protracted negation between the States and it's employees.

These people joined the civil service under the pay and conditions prevailing at the time, which included the current pension arrangements. We need to move to a position where the future pension provision is sustainable for all and it can only be done by agreement between both sides, you cannot blame the employees ,they didn't invent the pension arrangements they joined the civil service as a career and I have to say that some of the comments that have been made about our employees are not worthy of public comment.

kevin

Dave,

I am one of those who joined the PSD under the pay and conditions at the time - albeit at completely the other end of the pay scale to the bailiff and law officers etc.

Can you not understand why I would be slightly irritated that those who can most afford to take a financial hit are potentially in line for a 'compensation' payment whilst those earning peanuts in comparison will end up paying more in the interim, working up to age 67 and receiving a lesser pension when they do finally retire?

Dave Jones

That should of course read protracted "negotiations"

Dave Jones

Kevin

It is clear that the Crown appointees are under a different pension scheme than States employees. I am not familiar with the Crown employees conditions of employment, so it is difficult for me to comment further on their pension entitlement.

Spartacus

Someone can correct me if I have misunderstood however, according to the actuarial report, the crown appointees are members of the combined pool of the States of Guernsey public sector pension scheme and they are one of the special benefits groups. They are entitled to an employer contribution of between 20.6% and 23.9%.

P2514

http://www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=3953&p=0

Big Time

A Freudian slip...?

Wikipedia:-

"A Freudian slip is an error in speech, memory, or physical action that is interpreted as occurring due to the interference of some unconscious ("dynamically repressed") subdued wish, conflict, or train of thought."