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P&R says States "must tackle" housing needs and cost of living

P&R says States

Friday 13 May 2022

P&R says States "must tackle" housing needs and cost of living

Friday 13 May 2022


The Policy & Resources Committee wants housing and the cost of living to be the States' top priorities over the next 12 months.

The Committee has published a draft of the States' annual work plan with this clear message to deputies - "the island's housing needs and the increasing cost of living are the two most pressing and immediate domestic pressures which the States must tackle".

The Government Work Plan is debated annually by the States' Assembly. It will steer all committees' work well into the third year of the States' term.

States Chamber Peter Ferbrache Heidi Soulsby

Pictured: The Policy & Resources Committee's Vice President, Deputy Heidi Soulsby, leads on the Government Work Plan, which her President, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, says must result in more being done to alleviate housing costs.

Releasing the plan, the Committee's President, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, said: "For this coming year, the pressure on our housing market is one area that we must address urgently, as it creates challenges in many other areas, socially and economically.

"We have taken some important steps, but we must do more, quickly."

At present, demand for social and affordable housing significantly outstrips supply. The average price of a local market property is 12% higher than a year ago and has surpassed £570,000 - around 16 times the average person's annual earnings.

And inflation has reached its highest point since 2008 and is expected to climb higher as consumers face rising bills.

In response, the Committee is asking the States to back as yet unidentified actions to increase the supply and affordability of private housing and housing for key workers coming to the island and to press ahead with proposals to transfer States' social housing to the Guernsey Housing Association.

Inflation_rising_.jpg

Pictured: Prices are rising faster than they have for nearly 15 years.

"We must also ensure we have resilience in areas such as energy security and climate change mitigations," said Deputy Ferbrache.

"We need to make sure we’re able to raise enough revenue to fund essential services.

"And we must continue to demonstrate our compliance with international standards, recognising the importance of our reputation to our economic wellbeing."

They are all included in the Plan alongside housing on a list of 11 category one actions which the Committee has "identified as priorities for the 2022-2023 period and which need to be delivered to meet major challenges or take up time sensitive opportunities" and which it says should be "resourced as a priority".

Energy_policy_GPEG_Peter_Neville_Lindsay_De_Sausmarez.jpg

Pictured: The Policy & Resources Committee wants the States to back "establishing a climate change expert panel and scoping a proportionate and pragmatic path to net zero". 

What are the other category one actions alongside housing?

Reviewing population and immigration policies

Agreeing a plan to develop skills and human capital

Improving living standards - including through a review of minimum income standards and long-term care funding

Health recovery - including more targeted support with primary care costs and investigating whether to introduce a compulsory insurance scheme for primary care

Supporting young people - including amending the Children Law and investing more to support schools following Ofsted inspections

Energy resilience - including developing an electricity strategy and promoting renewables

Climate change mitigation and adaptation

The expansion of the blue and green economy

Agreeing future harbour requirements

Maintaining compliance with international standards on financial crime and regulation

St_Peter_Port_Harbour.jpg

Pictured: The current States have twice rejected proposals to decide future harbour requirements in St Peter Port and St Sampson's.

The States elected in October 2020 initially debated their work programme in July 2021. Deputy Ferbrache said the States had achieved much since then.

"Looking at the first 12 months of this Government Work Plan, I’m encouraged that in fact we have achieved a lot of what we set out as our collective priorities last year," he said.

"Including an end to the use of emergency powers for managing covid-19, securing access for the Bailiwick in trade in goods as part of the UK’s new trade agreements, and supporting our local economy through things like an improved digital infrastructure and investment in promotion for key business sectors."

covid-19_infection_at_PEH.jpg

Pictured: Deputy Peter Ferbrache said that ending the use of sweeping emergency powers to manage the covid-19 pandemic was a key achievement of the past 12 months.

The Government Work Plan is led by the Committee's Vice President, Deputy Heidi Soulsby. She said the Plan was improving the way the States worked and encouraged deputies to remain committed to it.

"The actions of government need to be focused and prioritised," said Deputy Soulsby.

"We have limited resources and we have to be realistic about that if we’re going to deliver outcomes that make any sort of difference in islanders’ lives. We cannot just add more to the pile because we know we can’t afford it, we can’t staff it, and we end up with a long list of work that never happens.

"The first debate on this Plan [in July 2021] did a lot to cut out what was unrealisable and no longer prioritised from previous terms. We must now keep up that discipline and not clog up the wheels of government again.

"Openly debating the priorities and making changes is good. After all, that’s what the Plan is here for. But for every new priority and action added to the list, we must deprioritise something else because we cannot resource everything."

READ MORE...

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