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Why we need a Housing Commissioner

Why we need a Housing Commissioner

Monday 09 January 2023

Why we need a Housing Commissioner

Monday 09 January 2023


The former Housing Minister Anne Pryke lodged proposals to introduce minimum standards for social housing and to establish a register of all social housing providers way back in 2018, and it seems there is to be further debate in 2023 about the need for a register of all residential landlords.

Recently a horrific story of a child dying in the UK due to living in very poor housing conditions hit the headlines and a number of Public Health and Housing experts have urged the UK government to do much more to improve the quality of rented accommodation.

Whilst much has been done since 2018 to improve the standard of rental property in Jersey there remains outstanding issues not least knowing who all the landlords are, and the quality of the accommodation they are letting.

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Picture: Recently a horrific story of a child dying in the UK due to living in very poor housing conditions hit the headlines.

Former assistant chief minister Philip Ozouf proposed an amendment to the regulations proposed by former Deputy Pryke with the aim of putting a greater emphasis on the supply of housing in the Island. This included establishing a commissioner for social housing, which was agreed by Deputy Pryke. 

Under the proposals, the regulator would have had two main responsibilities – to protect the rights and interests of current and future social housing tenants and to safeguard public and private investment in social housing provision.

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Pictured: The former Housing Minister Anne Pryke lodged proposals to introduce minimum standards for social housing and to establish a register of all social housing providers way back in 2018.

Housing provision remains a big ticket issue for the current government led by Deputy Kristina Moore and her Housing Minister David Warr. Demand continues to outstrip supply and housing affordability continues to be a divisive debate across the States Assembly and a huge challenge for many islanders.

Is it then time to look again at the need to appoint an independent Commissioner for Housing in Jersey to ensure the island's population have access to not only good quality housing but homes people can actually afford to live in without the need for taxpayer funded support to pay the rent?

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Pictured: Housing provision remains a big ticket issue for the current government led by Deputy Kristina Moore and her Housing Minister David Warr.

Also in 2018 the UK government set up a task force called ‘The Affordable Housing Commision’ to take an in depth look into the housing rental sector and commissioned a report. The report covered the following topics and made recommendations accordingly as follows

To rebalance the housing system to provide affordable housing opportunities for all by 2045;

To make affordable housing a national priority and to put it at the centre of a national housing strategy;

To adopt a new definition and measures of housing affordability, which relate to people’s income and circumstances;

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Pictured: In 2018 the UK government set up a task force called ‘The Affordable Housing Commision’ to take an in depth look into the housing rental sector.

To increase investment in new social housing, alongside reforms to help rebalance the system away from the private rented sector to social housing; 

To constrain rent increases, end Affordable Rent and reform the right to buy; 

To support first-time buyers stuck in the private rented sector by levelling the mortgage market, providing targeted support for deposits and increasing supply; and

To improve the safety net for struggling renters and homeowners, and to bring all homes up to a safe and decent standard.

We have some excellent people in Jersey who really understand housing and the challenges associated with supply and demand and the real ‘elephant in the room’ affordability. 

If Kristina Moore and her colleague David Warr are serious about tackling the housing crisis in Jersey they need to heed the advice of experts and consider creating an office for ‘The Independent Housing Commissioner’.

To date there has been too much tweaking around the edges of existing legislation and policy,  and precious little radical action in tackling what is a major issue. We are struggling to recruit and retain key workers in Health and Social Care for example,  and far too many islanders are being priced, not only out of the market but away from the island all together.

As 2023 unfolds and the government aims to meet the challenges it faces, housing its population in good quality and affordable homes will be key in successfully fulfilling its promises.

In the past Jersey’s government has invested significant sums of money in accessing good advice. Engaging the services of an on island expert in housing would be a very sound investment indeed. I hope a proposition will be forthcoming soon because an opportunity was missed in 2018 and we cannot risk failing to provide the housing Jersey needs for its continued economic success and in the provision of our public services.

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