With population being such a sensitive subject in Jersey, a political debate currently being waged in the Isle of Man may come as a surprise: should the government attract thousands of more people to the island?
The Manx government had proposed increasing its 84,000 population to 100,000 to, it argued, increase tax revenues and sustain economic growth.
However, it now seems that that policy has been quietly pushed down the priority list, according to local media.
Later this month, the island’s parliament, the Tynwald, is due to debate an economic strategy for the Crown Dependency, covering the next 15 years,
Earlier drafts included the aspiration to ‘grow our population to 100,000 residents by 2037” by inward migration of working-age people.
It has now been amended to “‘further develop the infrastructure and services for our community to plan for an estimated population of 100,000 by 2037”.
The Isle of Man Today news website also points out that in the report, growing the population has gone from being a category in its own right under ‘economic aspirations and economic shifts’ to ‘economic ambitions and shifts’.
This ‘back-pedalling’, it suggests, was partly due to a survey revealing that most islanders think that growing the population should not be a high priority, with almost 30% of respondents believing it was “not at all important”.
Jersey’s population currently stands at 103,267, according to the 2021 Census. This was 4,500 fewer than a population estimate of 2019 but the ten-year survey took place in the middle of the pandemic, prompting some to question its accuracy.
Isle of Man has around 19,000 fewer residents than Jersey, although the island is around five times bigger.
Guernsey has a rolling census based on electronic records and its population was 63,823 at the end of last year. Facing similar staff shortages to its fellow Crown Dependencies, who also all face an ageing demographic, it too is debating whether to attract more people to move to the island.
In contrast, Jersey approved a policy earlier this year to reduce its reliance on inward migration by increasing productivity and automating processes wherever possible.
The new Government has recently established a ‘Population and Skills Ministerial Group’ to address what it says are “critical labour shortages in the public and private sectors”.
The group has yet to report on how it intends to do that within the parameters of the official population policy.
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