Guernsey Press

‘There is a case for one housing committee with a broad mandate’

A desperate shortage of one-bed social housing properties is seeing even urgent applicants waiting more than a year for a suitable home, a series of Rule 14 questions has revealed.

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Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller is calling for a new housing committee. (33387586)

Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller submitted the questions as part of her calls for a new housing committee.

She said her views have been reinforced by having to ask four separate bodies for information about the island’s housing waiting lists. She asked questions of Employment & Social Security about the waiting lists for affordable housing and how many people were on each one.

There are five waiting lists – social rental, key worker, extra-care housing, specialised housing and partial ownership.

Of these, only social rental is handled by ESS, with the remainder being under the auspices of Policy & Resources (key workers), Health & Social Care (extra care and specialised housing) and the Guernsey Housing Association (partial ownership).

‘The data I have received, in my view, continues to build the case for one committee for housing, with a broad mandate, oversight, reporting and, most importantly, a costed and timed delivery plan on housing provision that works against economic and political cycles and over-reliance on single policies like GP11,’ said Deputy Kazantseva-Miller, who is also a member of the Development & Planning Authority.

The answers given were illustrative of some of the problems of having the housing mandate spread across so many committees, she said.

‘I cannot get one comprehensive response by engaging with one committee, I have to go to at least three different committees and one external party to find one piece of information on housing.’

She had asked for data about the numbers on the waiting lists since she had not seen it published anywhere and thought it would help inform debate on her requete.

ESS said there were 214 applicants on the social housing waiting list at the end of last year, compared to 221 at the end of 2022.

The majority of these, 139, were for one-bedroom accommodation, while 43 were looking for two-beds and 32 for three-beds. ESS said its social housing list was based across three bands, with Band 1 being for urgent/emergency cases, 2 for other cases in need, which is where it said most applications are, and Band 3 for people who were adequately housed privately.

Last year the average number of days someone in Band 1 had to wait for a one-bedroom home was 507, compared to 341 the year before. A total of 11 applicants were housed. There was a slightly shorter waiting time for those seeking a one-bedroom home on the ground floor, at 443 days and nine applicants were found a home. In 2018 the average wait time was 110 days.

The figure last year for three-bed homes was lower, with about a 200-day waiting time and 22 applicants were housed.

Deputy Kazantseva-Miller said that combined with the answer to a similar question she asked of the GHA, in 2014 the combined list for partial ownership and social rental was 378, which did not include any social rental provided by the GHA, or specialised or key worker housing, which would have taken the total to more than 378. ‘To me, this would indicate a continued strong need for affordable housing, including the backdrop of worsening affordability that’s been deteriorating for years,’ she said.

‘Looking at this data, I question the decision to dissolve the previous Housing Committee through the 2014-2016 machinery of government review.’

As of the end of the 2016-2020 political term there was no additional land supply secured and total reliance on ‘a novel and unpopular at the time of consultation, policy GP11, to secure land for affordable housing’.

‘GP11 materialised in zero units of any housing, not just affordable, being delivered between 2016 and 2024 through the bigger sites where the policy got engaged.’