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The housing crisis, finance and our two-tier population

The housing crisis, finance and our two-tier population

Thursday 07 April 2022

The housing crisis, finance and our two-tier population

Thursday 07 April 2022


The housing crisis... how did we get here? There is one simple answer and others that are more complex. Let’s deal with the simple one.

Over the last 50 years, the island has transformed its economy, becoming largely reliant on finance.

Government policies have focused on protection of this industry and all who serve it.

By any measure, this has been very successful. Many local people have benefitted greatly from good employment and a good life. Many others have been left behind.

A strong economy, driving inflation and property prices, has produced a two-tier population - the haves and the have-nots. A whole section of our people can no longer afford a decent life.

moneysavingscashpoverty.jpg

Pictured: Jersey has a "two-tier population - the haves and the have-nots."

This is where Government needed to intervene, to widen its focus and to ensure that the whole local population shared in the island's undoubted prosperity. It failed to recognise this challenge and, as I have said before, sleepwalked into a housing crisis.

Just think about it - how else could you possibly explain the situation? That is the most kindly explanation possible.

On top of this, there was a general reluctance to allow or foster new housing development. Protection of both country and town ensured that sites were few. There was a perception that housing development encouraged immigration, ignoring the fact that immigration was happening regardless, resulting in a housing crisis and price escalation.

Organic fields St. Helier Island Plan.jpeg

Pictured: "Protection of both country and town ensured that sites were few."

A proper, generous provision of affordable housing would have been the platform for a housing market in tune with the needs and incomes of the people.

So, there you have it.

An essential need for every family, a home, was never at the forefront of Government policy over a long period of exceptional growth in the economy and in population numbers. A policy to eliminate poverty in the Island was allowed to wither on the bough. This was never much more than words in the first place. The divergence between the prospects and lives of the rich and the poor was never viewed as a problem, never tackled, never recognised; a failure of Government.

That is the one, over-riding simple answer to the question – how did we get here?

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