Guernsey Press

Affordability – easy to say, difficult to do

STATES member voices an honest opinion about what needs to happen to the property market to truly improve affordability.


A little bit of rabble-rousing on social media and misrepresentation of a headline without the context of the story and suddenly we’re drifting into ‘destabilising the market’ undertones and fairly quickly, a row-back statement ‘clarifying’ the position. Which didn’t seem to help too much.

The president of Policy & Resources is right when he says that tackling affordability is key to the success of the States in the housing market. Taking affordability from 15/16 times earnings to nine or 10 would be a significant achievement for those wanting to get on to the ladder.

It wouldn’t jeopardise those who’ve already paid off their home. The numbers who’d actually be caught up in the worries of negative equity, rather than the loss of paper value, would be likely to be minimal.

However, enhancing affordability is fairly easy to say, and much less easy to do, especially when the States’ only lever in this turnaround is increasing supply – where they are miles behind – and the stated obvious intent to keep the economy buoyant won’t bring house prices or indeed housebuilding costs down any time soon.

The clarification said nothing of consequence, save for ‘don’t take me out of context’. It’s difficult to say anything about improving affordability. Because it is difficult to do.

And it’s likely to go nowhere fast in short or medium-term, as this rather unfortunate exchange has demonstrated.