Guernsey Press

Economic growth ‘leaving Guernsey families behind’

CHANGES in the island’s economy are leaving behind too many local families, according to Economic Development president Neil Inder.

Economic Development president Neil Inder. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 32526980)

He told a Scrutiny public hearing yesterday that he was increasingly aware of concerns about the impact of economic growth and asked: ‘What’s in it for the Guernseyman or woman?’

Deputy Inder called financial services ‘the single biggest industry that drives absolutely everything’ and acknowledged that many finance companies and firms in other sectors had good reasons for wanting more workers, and more housing to accommodate them.

‘But I’m going to give a word of warning. I’m starting to see that Guernsey folk are getting left behind,’ he said.

‘In this constant drive for professionalisation and the gentrification of this island, the core Guernsey folk, who actually built up all of our pension funds and who built up what’s left of the reserves, they are getting left behind.

‘We’re talking about key workers. We’re talking about the finance industry. Where is

the message for the Guernsey folk?’

Economic activity in the island has nearly doubled in real terms over the past 30 years, reflecting a significant increase in the profits of businesses and the earnings of the resident population.

But this has also fuelled growth in house prices. The average local market house now costs more than 16 times the average person’s earnings.

‘This is purely from a Guernseyman whose family came here on the plague boat – I’m significantly concerned that the skilled

people are leaving,’ said Deputy Inder.

‘In my family, I’ve seen three or four members now in Canada.

‘There’s this weird carousel going on. We’re talking about skills and housing. We’re not even keeping the people who are skilled in the island. They are leaving and that isn’t featuring in this discourse.’

Scrutiny member Deputy John Dyke, who was sitting on the panel quizzing the Economic Development committee, said that controlling growth while enabling job vacancies to be filled, had become ‘a conundrum which is almost impossible’.