Population law is not the hindrance

BUSINESSES that want to keep non-local workers can do so by extending licences at the current time, the administrator of Guernsey’s population management regime confirmed to a Chamber of Commerce lunch yesterday.

P&R president Deputy Peter Ferbrache speaks yesterday’s Chamber lunch. On the left is Home Affairs president Deputy Rob Prow with the Co-op’s Kenny McDonald on the right. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30099685)
P&R president Deputy Peter Ferbrache speaks yesterday’s Chamber lunch. On the left is Home Affairs president Deputy Rob Prow with the Co-op’s Kenny McDonald on the right. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30099685)

Amid concerns about labour shortages locally, Gary Salter said: ‘A general message is that if you have staff and you want to keep them, you can. And if you can find staff and you want them to come to the island, you can get a permit for them. It’s really that simple from the population management perspective.’

Mr Salter acknowledged that Brexit had resulted in an additional layer for EU nationals to live in work in Guernsey as they required a UK visa. There was no getting around that, he said, as it was part of being part of the Common Travel Area.

But Guernsey had been able to ‘open up a route’ for EU nationals to work in areas such as hospitality and cleaning locally, which was different to that of UK policy, to partially mitigate the impact of Brexit, said Mr Salter.

This was because the island had been able to evidence the need for such workers in discussions with the UK, the event heard. It had also demonstrated controls were in place in the shape of the population management regime and employment permits.

Audience member Ian Walker, from the Little Big Hotel Group, asked if the process to bring in workers could be made quicker – and if particular pressure could be applied to the UK where the major issue was.

Home Affairs president Rob Prow said the island’s immigration team worked as quickly as possible and gave advice to individual businesses. His committee was alive to the issues and would try and make the process as quick as it could.

Industry was also having to look further afield for staff than in the past, which was where the delays were.

‘It’s a more complicated process. We have the visa process,’ said Deputy Prow.

‘You raised a good point about putting pressure on the United Kingdom. I think what they will say is: “Hang on, we’ve got our own labour shortages. We’ve got our own demands on our British missions abroad in issuing the visas. We will do what we can”.

‘As we have already highlighted, we do have leeway. We’re not using their points-based system, which incidentally adds another layer of delay. But I think we will as we move forward have to have more dialogue with the UK and really analyse what our labour shortages are.’

Policy & Resources president Deputy Peter Ferbrache said this States would be a proactive one, which listened and worked with business to address issues such as labour shortages.

Amid questions about the cost of housing, he acknowledged it was an issue and urged his fellow politicians to accept the need for new homes to be built.

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