Guernsey Press

States only serious about solving one of two housing crises

HAS it occurred to people that Guernsey is facing two housing crises, but the States is only serious about solving one of them?


The first crisis is the human crisis of the shortage of homes for local people. This crisis is real but not one that the States is much interested in.

It is the second crisis that the States is serious about. This is the crisis (if it can be called that) of the shortage of homes for the 300+ immigrants per year for the next 30 years that the States says are needed in order to maintain the island’s economy at its present level, but with a broader aspiration to increase the island’s population to 80,000 within 50 years in order to stimulate actual economic growth (see ‘Towards an Economic Development Strategy for Guernsey’, 2012). Be clear, this ‘crisis’ is caused by the States’ aspirations for future economy and wealth.

It could be argued that the States is attempting to solve both crises, but I do not think this is the case. For starters, the attempt to introduce between 9-15,000 immigrants for mostly economic reasons directly militates against efforts to make affordable homes available for local people. As further evidence, the States has recently abandoned its commitment in the Island Development Plan for the provision of affordable homes.

This was a measure to help the housing crisis in support of local people which, it seems to me, got in the way of solving the building ‘crisis’ for thousands of economic immigrants who do not even live here yet.

The above-named document points out that, ‘in relative terms, the Guernsey economy remains one of the most prosperous in the world’. It would seem that few local politicians question whether it might be better to consolidate the economy, accept a lower rate of immigration, and instead aim for quality of life. I would think that this would be preferable to trying to sustain such a high economic level by resorting to spiralling immigration and the associated social and environmental problems of increased population density and massed housing development.

The States has lately been informing us of a looming elderly social-care crisis, for which we are told that extra immigration will also be required. The States does not find it contradictory to attempt to decrease the elderly care ‘burden’ by increasing the island’s population by 9,000-plus future elderly people. One can only presume they would prefer workers to leave the island at retirement age, leaving behind the many worker-migrants and high-net-worth residents. Anyone who knows the States (now a mostly corporate entity) and its taxation and planning regimes will, I suspect, recognise this as uncomfortably close to the truth.

Perhaps if the States were not so bent on supporting the global finance industry and big-wealth generation, Guernsey’s society might not be so top-heavy with hi-tech service industries and white-collar workers, with a corresponding need for quite so many support services and workers beneath them.

Andrew Lee

Les Salines

Les Salines

St Martin’s