Guernsey Press

‘Public money needed for private housing'

A call is being made for the States to look again at using public money to fund private housebuilding and home ownership.

Last updated
Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller is leading proposals for a new housing committee. (33410058)

Thousands of homeowners are still living in properties which were built or bought with financial support through various subsidy schemes run by the States during most of the 20th century.

Although mortgage holders still receive tax relief on interest payments, the States’ last major subsidy scheme for private housing was scrapped 15 years ago. Since then, average house purchase prices have risen nearly three times faster than average earnings, leaving Guernsey with the least affordable housing in western Europe.

Now Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller, who is leading proposals for a new housing committee, has called on the States to consider pumping taxpayers’ money into new schemes to help islanders get onto the housing ladder – if it is serious about alleviating the island’s housing crisis.

  • Listen to the full interview with Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller on the latest Guernsey Press Politics Podcast Kiosk Politics episode

‘We definitely need to be looking at some kind of financing because people are struggling,’ she said.

‘Guernsey’s housing policy was rooted in helping private home ownership.

The first loans were made over 100 years ago to people trying to get on the housing ladder. Then we had the Homes For Workers programme, especially in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, where the States helped enable home ownership of about 4,000 homes.

‘Historically, the States has done more on private home ownership than on social housing. Those 4,000 private homes are more than all the social housing stock we have got.’

Speaking on the latest Guernsey Press Politics Podcast, Deputy Kazantseva-Miller proposed a more active role for the States in building more affordable housing – ‘affordable with a small a’ – in the private sector, as well as social housing.

She suggested that could include the States sponsoring new methods of constructing homes, and bulk buying materials to keep down costs and would like to see ‘a costed and timed delivery plan’, after an assessment of all options available to the States to support the construction of private sector as well as social housing.

For more than 20 years, committees with responsibility for housing have opposed using public money to subsidise construction or purchase of private homes, believing that earlier such schemes helped fuel house price inflation.

But Deputy Kazantseva-Miller wants to see that approach reconsidered as part of a new package of incentives and penalties to stimulate housebuilding.

‘I think unlocking both private and social housing through joint ventures is going to be absolutely critical, partly because developers want to build but are struggling given the condition of some sites.

‘I also think there have to be penalties in relation to sites allocated for housing which are not coming forward. When we allocate land, it’s the supply for the next five years. If developers and landowners are not expecting or wanting to develop in that period of time, there has to be some mechanism to say you cannot be sitting on this land because it’s a strategic requirement that this land has to be built on.

‘We cannot afford people to be sitting on housing allocation sites for decades.’

A requete led by Deputy Kazantseva-Miller, and signed by six other States members, which proposes the creation of a new housing committee from the start of the next States term, will be debated by the Assembly in September. She declined to say whether she would want to lead the new committee, saying that would be ‘premature’.