Focus on housing was too narrow

THE States finally concluded more than two days of discussing the island’s housing problem, upgraded during the week from a ‘crisis’ into an ‘emergency’.

It has been a positive time for those hopeful of a chance of owning their own home, as long as they believe in the ability of States members to influence the market. But this was an awkward debate on many levels.

In their desperation to be seen to be tackling the issue, members have been literally queueing up with ideas to ‘do something’.

But with a mix of late amendments and complex rewrites of planning guidance, some fear that our elected representatives have been showing support when it is doubted they knew exactly what they were voting for. But they were seen to be ‘doing something’.

Two concerns emerge. First, whether the Government Work Plan debate – supposedly about prioritising resources – is the place to rewrite planning law, and whether doing so off a couple of sides of A4 is the way to go about it.

The other is whether an apparent obsession on home ownership is the way forward. More than 20 years ago consultants said the island offered significant assistance at the top and bottom of the market – house purchase and social housing – but next to nothing in the middle.

Affordability is key to home ownership, but owning your home is not the only way to house the population.

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