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"Ancestral homes" at risk as new higher TRP comes in

Wednesday 07 November 2018

"Ancestral homes" at risk as new higher TRP comes in

Older residents, who own big family sized houses, have been refused a reduction in TRP with the island's largest properties continuing to face rates above 500 regardless of who lives in them.

Deputy David De Lisle and others argued in the States yesterday, during the ongoing 2019 Budget debate, that more should be done to help pensioners stay in their family homes by helping to ease the financial burden of owning a big house.

The 2019 Budget includes a proposal to introduce increased TRP tariffs for domestic properties with a TRP waiting of 200 and above. The highest rate is for properties with a TRP over 500, which has a premium of 60%.


Pictured: Part of the 2019 Budget proposals focused on property taxes. 

Deputy David De Lisle argued this was unfair on older residents, who have larger homes, which may be worth more money but also cost more to run, when their income is limited. 

But, the majority of Guernsey's politicians disagreed, and narrowly rejected the efforts to reduce the proposed increase in property taxes. Deputy de Lisle supported by Deputy Barry Paint had wanted to reduce the increase in domestic and land TRP tariffs to 2.5%, stopping the introduction of the new 60% premium tariff for large domestic properties. That was thrown out by 20 votes to 18.

barry paint correct size

Pictured: Deputy Barry Paint. 

One of the most vocal opponents to the attempts at halting the increases in TRP was Deputy Jennifer Merrett who said that while she had "every empathy for people in homes they have memories for," she could not support efforts to reduce costs for them - instead saying they could downsize to save money.

Deputy Merrett said when her child leaves home she won't hold on to their family home - she wants her child to live her own life, and won't be keeping a bedroom for her to come home. She said some people need a "reality check" and that Guernsey needs to focus on modern day "nuclear families" who need smaller homes, instead of trying to "preserve large family homes for single older people to live in."

She asked where are the families, are they coming back? If they are not then these homes should be freed up for use by other Guernsey families, "new Guernsey families."

Jennifer Merrett

Pictured: Deputy Jennifer Merrett.

Deputy Mark Leadbeater took exception to Deputy Merrett's comments and said he would speak to her after the debate. He also said that older people should have every right to continue living in their family houses, and that some can't downsize - while he knows of some older residents who have life time residency rights and have no where else to move.

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen said the older generation should be afforded some help and supported the proposed reduction in TRP, while Deputy Jane Stephens said she knows of people who do live in one room in the winter to keep warm, and that she would support further investigation of ways to assist older people to support their lives at home, or to move to somewhere more appropriate to where they want to live their final years.


Pictured: The 2019 Budget present by Deputy Gavin St Pier is being debated in great detail this week. 

Deputy Gavin St Pier hit back at attempts to reduce the planned increases in TRP, arguing that there is a lot of "hyperbole" with descriptions of people being forced to sell their homes because of a slight increase in costs. He said that is "extremely unlikely."

He admitted there are some peculiar circumstances, whereby a single older person might be living in a property, but the island can't design a tax system around those.

Deputy St Pier argued that with a maximum of 750 properties affected by the new highest TRP rates, nearly half of those are on the open market, and one example is currently for sale for £2.75m. He said on the local market, one example is for sale for £1.4million and has parking at the front for 20 cars, and more parking at the back, with six bedrooms, a self enclosed and a guest suite garden annex.

David de Lisle

Pictured: Deputy David de Lisle.

Deputy de Lisle hit back at Deputy St Pier and others who argued that the island needs the increased income from TRP to balance its books - he said the new taxes didn't have to be brought in this year as the island has a surplus and enough in reserves that it doesn't need to increase the tax take in this way, at this time.

He passionately insisted that TRP and other indirect taxes would bring hardships for some island residents, and this new increased rate of TRP could force some homeowners to consider downsizing - that would be daunting for some Deputy de Lisle said, at this late stage in their lives.  

The Alderney States Member Louis Jean had convinced Deputy de Lisle and others that the new higher TRP rates would have a major impact on Alderney too.

Deputy de Lisle showed his hand when he hit back at Deputy Lyndon Trott who rose from his seat late in the debate to argue that Guernsey has one of the lowest tax takes in the western world. Deputy De Lisle shouted back that the public wouldn't agree and the public also wouldn't agree that Zero Ten (which was introduced under Deputy's Trott's role as Treasury Minister) was a good idea and that the island is still having to come up with ways of countering the introduction of that system of corporation tax.

Deputy de Lisle ended by saying that the States have broken promises to the people of Guernsey and that the "spiralling" cost of TRP will "double for some people this year."

He warned some Guernsey families will lose their "ancestral home" through this rise in TRP. The States by a small majority disagreed however and the amendment was lost, along with other efforts to increase personal income tax rates for pensioners.

The 2019 Budget debate continues.

Pictured top: Deputies Gavin St Pier and David de Lisle disagreed over increasing TRP costs to homeowners. 


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