‘States must spend another £50m. on subsidised housing’ over the next five years.

THE States has been warned that it needs to spend another £50m. building new subsidised housing over the next five years.

Deputy Peter Roffey. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32157747)
Deputy Peter Roffey. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32157747)

Employment & Social Security president Peter Roffey told the Assembly this week that it needed to ‘supercharge’ its affordable housing development programme.

‘And to do that, we are going to need a lot more money,’ said Deputy Roffey.

In 2021 the States agreed to spend £36m. building new subsidised housing. But Deputy Roffey said that would pay for fewer than half the number of social rental, partial ownership and key worker homes needed by the end of 2027.

‘How much more money does it need to deliver on the agreed targets? Probably about £45m. to £50m.,’ he said.

‘We have sufficient funds allocated for the seven developments that we have prioritised to be carried out over the next couple of years.

‘But it is absolutely crucial that we know that more capital is coming.

‘Unless this happens, we will not be able to commit any funding to things like buying new sites, or paying for architects’ plans, for medium-term pipeline developments.’

The States recently agreed that the island needs an additional 721 units of social rental and partial ownership housing over the next five years.

But Deputy Roffey said that the number was now ‘close to 1,000’ if the need for more key worker housing and specialised accommodation was included.

‘Without that additional allocation [£45m. to £50m.] we will not only fail, but fail badly, delivering only 40% of what the island needs over the next five years,’ he said.

‘That would be tragic, not only for the issue of housing, but for just about every other priority facing this Assembly because Guernsey’s current lack of affordable housing is a major aggravating factor in nearly every challenge the States needs to address.’

Deputies face a landmark debate in July when they reconsider their £568m. programme of capital projects.

Policy & Resources has informed them that hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of spending needs to be deferred following the States’ failure to agree large tax increases proposed earlier this year.

P&R has said it wants to press ahead with a new post-16 campus at Les Ozouets but delay the next phase of development at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.

‘It is not just a question of a crude decision between hospitals and schools that members will have to address in July. The affordable housing development programme is just as crucial, if not more so, as it underpins government’s ability to deliver its critical services,’ said Deputy Roffey.

‘Heaven knows if we can even grow the capacity of the local construction industry sufficiently to deliver that or if we can find sufficient sites to build on.

‘But one thing is certain – without a lot more capital funding, we stand absolutely no chance at all.’

He said the construction of new subsidised housing had ground to a halt when he became ESS president in 2020. New developments are now under way, but he warned the same thing could easily happen again.

‘Unless a medium- to long-term funding programme is agreed, there is a real risk that the affordable housing development programme could become briefly very active, only then to sink back into a semi-dormant state.

‘That would be a complete disaster for Guernsey, its community and its economy.’

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