Ministers should drop their meaningless population policy and focus on getting the broken system to actually work, according to a report out this morning.
Chief Minister Ian Gorst wants the States to debate a new interim population policy that would keep the current target of 325 newcomers per year, and he says that the new housing and work restrictions will help them stick to it. That target was initially set in 2009 but in every single year since it has been broken, even though the Island is going through the worst recession in living memory – on average, 575 newcomers have come to Jersey every 12 months since the target was set.
But after reviewing the new policy, the Corporate Services Scrutiny panel has said ministers should go back to the drawing board, and have pointed out that what ministers are proposing does not mention a “maximum”, “limit” or “cap”. They also say that the new system is not working yet – and have pointed out that the Stats Unit are refusing to publish an estimate of the population because they do not have faith in the mechanisms that the States are using to measure it.
Senator Sarah Ferguson, Chairman of the Panel, said: “The Council of Ministers has not complied with the 2012 Strategic Plan. The States are being asked to make decisions without the relevant information on which to base those decisions. This is underlined by the fact that relevant information gathering processes are not operating effectively as demonstrated by the problems with the Manpower Returns in January.
“Rather than an impassioned debate to agree what we are meant to be doing already, it would be better to devote the resources to getting the system to work.”
The policy is due to be debated by the States Assembly on 29th April, and ministers face a fight over an amendment by Deputy Geoff Southern to reduce the target from 325 people per year to 215, and another from Deputy Roy Le Hérissier to extend the five-year qualification period for open access to jobs to a seven-year wait.
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