Guernsey Press

Create a housing sector forum to tackle crisis

ONCE again, the lack of housing came up at June’s States Meeting. This time, much of the focus was on key worker accommodation. I believe that most people now recognise that Guernsey is in the middle of a housing crisis. The number of homes built has not been anywhere near enough to meet the needs of the island. This has been one of the factors that has led to massive house price inflation and a widening gap between earnings and the affordability of housing.


This means that first-time buyers are finding it difficult to rent a home, let alone buy one. Families are struggling to find a home that has the space for a growing family and older people, looking to downsize, are struggling to find suitable accommodation. And this lack of housing is apparent across the entire market – private, social and key worker housing.

Which of these should we prioritise? Small flats, family or retirement homes? Private, social or key worker housing? I don’t believe that it is a binary choice, I think that we need to deliver homes right across the spectrum.

We know that an increasing number of people are struggling to rent or buy a home. We know that employers (private and public sector) are struggling to fill open positions because potential employees cannot find suitable accommodation. We know that the construction industry wants to help deliver the homes that the island desperately needs. And we know that the States has made housing a top priority. But, if we are going to deliver these homes, I believe that we need to work together.

Today, there is no group that I am aware of that regularly brings together all the key stakeholders.

So, I propose that we create a housing sector forum. Given that housing is quite rightly a top political priority, I believe that the forum should report to the Policy and Resources Committee. The forum itself would be made up of representatives from the construction/property sector (covering private, social and key worker housing), the States (relevant committees) and employers (private and public sector). Additional representatives should also be brought in to provide further advice/guidance.

The forum would be tasked with finding ways to resolve the current housing crisis and help to develop the island’s future housing policies. By bringing all the relevant stakeholders together, I believe that it will result in better communication, better consultation, better strategic planning and an opportunity to share ideas/best practices. I suspect that a meeting once a month might be enough.

I want to be clear that this proposal is not designed to replace anything that currently exists, it simply tries to address a gap by bringing all the relevant parties together on a more regular basis.

I have already discussed the idea with some key potential stakeholders including representatives from the construction sector and local businesses as well as some of my political colleagues. The general consensus has been extremely positive.

I will continue to seek support for this proposal, but I am writing this piece now, in the hope that the Policy and Resources Committee will consider the idea and set up a housing sector forum immediately so as to avoid further delays.

A forum won’t result in spades in the ground tomorrow, but it might well result in a more joined-up approach to solving the island’s current and future housing requirements.